Chipotle Founder Calls McDonald’s Farm ‘Absolutely the Most Disgusting Thing’ He’s Ever Seen

Chipotle founder Steve Ells visited a McDonald’s farm sometime between 1998 and 2005, and was horrified by what he saw
Chipotle Founder Calls McDonald’s Farm ‘Absolutely the Most Disgusting Thing’ He’s Ever Seen
Chipotle

No one can deny the stark cultural and ideological differences between Chipotle and McDonald’s.

Did you know that McDonald’s was once a large investor in Chipotle, in part paving the way for the giant success the latter fast-casual restaurant has seen? Neither did we, but the relationship was apparently uneasy and tense.

McDonald’s really tried turning Chipotle into what would have become “yet another fast food chain,” complete with drive-thrus and breakfast options, but as we know, Chipotle never caved to either suggestion. Perhaps the chain’s obstinacy at least partially came from founder Steve Ells’ trip to a McDonald’s chicken farm sometime between 1998 and 2006 when the two restaurants were partnered, which he later described to his brother as “absolutely the most disgusting thing [he’s] ever seen,” according to an interview with Bloomberg.

"Up until that point, it was about buying really good, fresh food," Steve Ells said in the interview with Bloomberg. "But I had never visited the farms."

Although neither Steve Ells nor his brother Bob Ells would reveal exactly why the farms were so disgusting, the difference between public opinion of Chipotle’s quality and McDonald’s quality is stark — so much so that, while Chipotle brags about protecting animal rights, McDonald’s has had to come out with a series of videos to dispel certain unsavory myths about their food.

"What we found at the end of the day was that culturally we're very different," Ells told Bloomberg. "There are two big things that we do differently. One is the way we approach food, and the other is the way we approach our people culture. It's the combination of those things that I think make us successful."

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