If CMG is looking to get past their previous history of systemic food safety issues, this was probably a good choice.
One area where Chipotle resisted McD's advice was in automating their kitchen systems. One example was the steak. CMG believed hand-marinating and grilling their steaks in-store was a core feature that couldn't be changed. It's also a highly risky procedure when it comes to food safety and cross-contamination.
Other things, like the carnitas and barbacoa, were changed to be prepared offsite and shipped to the stores for sous-vide rethermalizing and serving. The steak was also changed to this method after the outbreaks (and long after MCD divested).
I understand why Chipotle has shifted focus so dramatically to food safety, but they’ve taken their eye off the ball on quality. My local shop has even had trouble getting the formerly routinely delicious rice cooked properly. I assume this is because of demands for a much tighter preparation schedule and serving window.
What Chipotle experienced was more than what you'd expect to happen in well-run restaurants that prepare everything themselves.
Again, it's not willful or malicious, just laziness.
I don't know if that was intentional or not, but I like it! :)
A lot of it, I would guess, is simple scale. There's like 800 more Chipotle restaurants than Chili's, and I'd be damn sure the volume of meals coming out of each one is skewed far towards Chipotle as well.
2020 = Automated kitchen systems prepare ingredients
2021 = Burrito preparation via robotics
2021 = End-to-end order fulfillment without human involvement
Just a matter of time before raw ingredients are lab grown and harvested by robots. Not too long ago, this was pure fantasy. Only now is it starting to look inevitable, for better or for worse.
I'm not sure Niccol is going to like their lack of basic metrics.
Source: work on the restaurant ops software
And if you see scales suddenly show up at CMG stores, you'll know what's up.
Edit: I get that this was probably more about the corporate culture as a whole, but working conditions and pay at the store level is equally as important in terms of customer experience in my opinion. 5 years ago when I went to a Chipotle, the workers there seemed happy. Now when I go, they clearly aren’t.
I had some kind of a burrito. I don't think I have ever been served food anywhere else that was more disgusting (sorry, I don't know of a more appropriate word to use here). And I'm not picky at all! I'll eat basically anything that you can throw at me - but this.. this was something else.
To be honest, I assumed and hoped it was a one-off occurrence because I couldn't imagine anybody going there more than once in their lifetime and they couldn't possibly be in the business if they'd constantly serve that kind of fast food.
While I like taco bell, I also like Chipotle's barbacoa burritos
It was everything I ever expected it to be ... I will never eat there again!
It was very bad, everything I would have expected - sort of like 'Old El Paso' ready-made Tex-Mex, as-prepared by a 1980s-era school kitchen.
Because it's cheap and delicious.
It’s also surprisingly vegetarian friendly compared to, say, your average burger joint.
It’s also really cheap. You can eat a days worth of calories for like $10.
I've read that at some point, Lebanese immigrants to Mexico also brought the shawarma/gyro with them and further contributed. I think it fills the same kind of food niche that Doner Kebabs fill in Europe, cheap, fast, unhealthy and filling. It's also an ideal foodtype for post-drunken late-night eating. Tacos seem to originate as a slang term used for mining charges in 18th century Mexican silver mines. At some point, somebody wrapped some meat in a tortilla and sold them as cheap laborer food.
Taco Bell was started by a guy named Glenn Bell back in the 1960s, he organized the menu, standardized on hard taco shells and a franchise model. They eventually discovered a kind of niche as a late night college food because you could easily get a couple days worth of food for cheaper than just about anywhere else -- and despite appearances has a very strong food safety record. Taco Bell is also the target of jokes about being low quality "garbage". (a common joke is that you can pick up your food at the counter and then go flush it down the toilet and cut out the middle man). Still, if you work late nights or went to college as an American, you probably ate a lot at Taco Bell and eventually developed a taste for it. If you've ever watched the movie "Demolition Man" it's a subtle joke throughout the movie that's culturally very funny to Americans.
I've never encountered a proper version of Tex-Mex outside of North America even though lots of places give it a good try. When I travel outside of the U.S. for long periods of time, it's the one kind of food I start to incessantly crave. I've noticed this among other Americans as well. Once, while doing work in Asia in an American enclave, a pop-up Taco Bell showed up charging 3 times the normal price and missing some ingredients and the line was 2 hours long.
They've tried to adopt "higher quality" ingredients and reform themselves in the past, but it's just not in their corporate DNA. More recently, they've decided to embrace their "crap food, fast and cheap" image and have developed an ever changing menu that brings in other junk food stuffs from sister brands. There's probably more food science than food in some of the menu items, but you can think of it as the cheapest molecular gastronomy meal you'll ever have.
Among immigrant friends to the U.S., most of them have their first taste of Taco Bell and think it's similarly revolting, but after a few years in the U.S. the cheapness and ubiquity of it kind of enters the diet. I know of a few people who returned to their home countries and have tried to work with Taco Bell to open franchises locally - and they all hated it the first time they ate it. My wife, a Korean immigrant, craves Taco Bell at times.
Chipotle should vertically integrate and grow their own pork without compromising ethics. It's already a shit margin business, maybe going to zero margin on the farming could help.
Because the English upper classes were speaking Norman many of the culinary terms such as pork, beef, and poultry in modern English come from the Norman language.
But because animals would have been raised by common people they retained the Old English derived names such as pig, cow, chicken.
That's very far from rolling the dice with a heath risk.
It should have been framed and explained better.
I personally think that if they can't find meat either they shouldn't sell it (which they did and people got pissed). Or grow your own.
Do you expect either lower-quality meat or higher-health-risk meat as a result of this? I don't think I do but maybe I just don't know enough here.
The short warning just read to me as "don't order the pork, you might get sick". Not a great set-up for a good lunch experience. They seem to assume all customers are already educated about their sourcing strategy.
"the CDC reports a total of 55 people infected with the outbreak strain of STEC (Shiga toxin producing E. coli) O26 from a total of 11 states in the larger outbreak"
"Chipotle Mexican Grill closed 43 restaurants in Washington and Oregon in early November 2015 in response to the initial outbreak."
Basically, he's strong in all the areas where Chipotle is perceived of as being weak.
Chipotle can't really compete with restaurants that actually serve good food, so why not fill the giant divide between them and Taco Bell?
But in Chipotle's case, switching ingredients and preparation methods as a quick response to the outbreak probably led to sub-par standards and lower quality ingredients. It's not that easy changing the whole supply chain in a matter of months.
Every Saturday during college I would go to Chipotle. It was amazing--especially for the price. I've tried recently in the past, but ever since the e-coli issues, the food has greatly gone down in quality.
Taco Bell tried this in the 90s near where I lived at the time (it was called Border Bell) and it never really caught on and closed not too long after it opened.
Chipotle has the brand that is already pretty strong there in that tier of the market just above fast food and below sit-down casual dining.
>> list of what you can work with in a Chipotle is short, very short
That's not specific to Taco Bell or Chipotle. That's called Mexican food.
This is my neighbourhood's high-end Mexican restaurant's dinner menu . Good rule of thumb: if you think of the food of any G20 country  as being cheap or simple, you're probably wrong.
However, operational food safety is VERY transferable and something the Chipotle really needs.
Now, whether this CEO actually has that knowledge is a different discussion ...
Do you have evidence of this? (Does this apply just to the CEO role or to other roles too?)
Maybe he can at least figure out how to keep the veggies from being a petridish. Here is a hint - subway and most sandwich shops don't keep warm meat next to the veg...