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How Chipotle Changed American Fast Food Forever

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by YankeeFan, Mar 14, 2014.

  1. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    The McDonald's/Millennials/Chipotle tread got locked?

    Anyway, here's FastCompany:

    In 1991, Steve Ells couldn’t afford to eat regularly at the legendary Stars restaurant where he was working as a $12-an-hour line cook. Instead, he was more frequently found gorging himself on giant burritos at a taquería in San Francisco’s Mission District called Zona Rosa. It was there, over a carnitas burrito, that Ells had the insight that would change his life--and American fast food--forever.

    Ells looked up from his table at the long line of people waiting to order their food and the small group of workers behind the counter preparing the rice, beans, pork, and guacamole. “I remember jotting down on a napkin at that moment how many people were going through the line, how quickly,” he told the Rocky Mountain News in 2006, “and I thought, they probably have this much in sales, the food costs might be X--a good little business.”

    As a trained chef and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Ells was intrigued by something else about Zona Rosa. Its food was produced fast and inexpensively, but the quality and the flavor weren’t compromised in the way that typical fast food fare is. He returned to his hometown of Boulder, Colorado, and there in 1993 he opened the first in a chain of Chipotle Mexican Grills.

    There are now over 1,400 Chipotle locations in 43 states, and the chain reportedly made a 25% profit margin on $2 billion in sales in 2011.

  2. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    That's a good read, YF ... and it made remember the cringe-inducing "59-79-99" campaign! (I worked at Taco Bell in the early 1990s).

    Something else the article didn't mention: the rapid rise in consumption of "Mexican" food since 1991, especially in areas far north of the border and the suburbs.

    I'm sure Chipotle has both contributed to and benefitted from that trend.
  3. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    It's funny, I lived in a city after college where they had burrito places every 100 yards. It was Z-Teca, which later became Qdoba and Chipotles all over the place. Then I moved to a city where there was nothing even resembling a burrito chain place other than Taco Bell and that was only 14 years ago.

    The city where I live now has them opening a few new sites every year. It's crazy.
  4. Jake_Taylor

    Jake_Taylor Well-Known Member

    People seem to have their preferences, but to me the brands vary a lot by location, management, etc. Some places I've lived Qdoba was by far the best of these chains in town. Some places Chipotle is way better. Sometimes Moe's is just as good, sometimes it sucks. There's a Cafe Rio in my town that's decent, but not as good as the local Chipotle. The Cafe Rio 20 miles down the road is superb though.
  5. Buck

    Buck Well-Known Member

    Chipotle has been very successful.
    I'm not sure it has changed American fastfood forever.
  6. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    I'd still take a Pancheros burrito over a Chipotle burrito.
  7. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    Interesting to see how Pancheros has slowly spread across the country. First store opened in Iowa City, right across from the main part of the University of Iowa campus. Now I've seen them in places like the Phoenix area.

    In retrospect, Pancheros was very similar to the Chipotle restaurant model ... just didn't spread as fast. And there were similar types of burrito joints in other Midwest college towns. "La Bamba" comes to mind, with "Burritos as Big as Your Head" :)
  8. murphyc

    murphyc Well-Known Member

    My wife and I still miss the Pancheros in Iowa City. Awesome food.
    It's been interesting seeing the fast food places try various strategies. I worked for two summers at a Burger King, when the Whopper was $.99; now BK seems to keep trying something new every few months in the hopes that something will stick. I think I heard Taco Bell is coming out with breakfast later this month. Subway is trying pizzas and McD's went to premium burgers and coffees a few years back.
  9. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    It's not fast food if you have to get out of your car to get it.
  10. Jake_Taylor

    Jake_Taylor Well-Known Member

    So if I walk into a McDonald's in Manhattan or downtown DC it's no longer fast food?
  11. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    If you're on foot in a big city and go to McDonald's it's a cry for help.
  12. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    Point taken, but I think you know what I am getting at.
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