13 Things You Didn’t Know About Chipotle Mexican Grill
April 24, 2015
The super-popular chain still has a few tricks up its sleeve
They Own Shophouse
Chipotle owns Shophouse, a D.C.-based chain of “Southeast Asian Kitchens.”
There’s a Free Burrito Coin
Nobody is really sure if they’re still being issued or what you need to do in order to get one, but once upon a time, Chipotle would reward loyal customers with a real coin that could be redeemed for a free burrito.
They Secretly Invested in a Denver Pizzeria
Last year, Chipotle and the owners of Boulder’s renowned Frasca Food & Wine opened a pizzeria in Denver called Pizzeria Locale, complete with a high-tech infrared pizza oven. Personal pizzas cost just $6.50 and only take a few minutes to cook. It was a massive secret — only about 20 people in total at both companies were in on it — and shockwaves went through the industry when word got out late last year. As to whether Locale will be “the next Chipotle of Pizza,” that remains to be seen.
There’s an Invitation-Only Loyalty Program
It’s called The Farm Team, and it’s a customer rewards program that also teaches members about factory farming and related topics. It’s notoriously difficult to join (a manager needs to invite you, and occasionally you can buy a membership on eBay), but once you’re in you can win free food, t-shirts, and other cool stuff.
They’re Experimenting with Craft Beer
Chipotle recently partnered with 5 Rabbit Brewery to sell custom-brewed beer, so don’t be surprised if you start seeing more than the usual mass-market beer options soon.
They Know How to Celebrate Halloween
There Are No Franchises
Nearly every fast food chain is franchised, with some locations owned by the company and others owned by independent restaurateurs. Like In-N-Out, however, Chipotle doesn’t franchise out any of its locations; they’re all company-owned.
They Burn Through a Ton of Avocados
Want guacamole on that? So do a lot of other people: Chipotle uses 100,000 avocadoes per day, some contributed by a farm that’s owned by none other than singer-songwriter Jason Mraz.
Their Hiring Criteria is Very Strict
According to Ells, employees must be "polite, hospitable, smart, ambitious, curious, happy, respectful, honest, presentable, conscientious, motivated, infectiously enthusiastic, and have high energy." Judging by one of the lowest turnovers in the business, Chipotle does a good job of finding employees who not only meet those qualifications, but really want to be there.
Every month, DJ Christopher Golub creates a 500-song playlist that gets pumped through the sound system at every location.
All Their Advertising is Done In-House
It's nearly unheard-of for a company as big as Chipotle to shun ad agencies when coming up with advertising concepts, but they've done just that. While their ads aren't nearly as ubiquitous as those of McDonald's or Subway, the ads they've released have been unique and effective, usually touting the virtues of small-scale farming.
They Take Design Very Seriously
Bruce Gueswel was one of Ells' old college friends, and he designed the first location. The second was designed by Brand Gould, who later became Chipotle’s head architect. More recently, the new look of the restaurants was initially designed by Thaddeus Briner, and today, there is a new head of architecture and design. If you want one of those Mayan-style sculptures, you can purchase one for a price between $350 to $900.