ShopHouse Prepares For Second Unit

ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen, a concept by Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. that debuted in Washington, D.C., last year, will begin construction soon on a second restaurant.

Chipotle co-chief executive Steve Ells told analysts at the annual ICR Xchange investor conference in Miami on Wednesday that the second ShopHouse would open later this year in "a really funky spot" in a contiguous trade area near the first, which is in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Northwest Washington D.C.

More ShopHouse locations are expected as the company lays the groundwork for future growth and fine-tunes the concept, Ells said.

Ells said the first ShopHouse unit has had lines out the door, and customers have embraced the "exciting, very spicy and very bold" flavors inspired by the cuisines of Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.

The original ShopHouse opened in September, offering essentially the same fully customized, fast-casual service style of Chipotle, but with a different flavor profile.

The success of the first ShopHouse also comes without cannibalization of a Chipotle restaurant located directly across the street, analyst Mark Kalinowski of Janney Capital Markets noted in a report Thursday.

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The 1,163-unit Chipotle is also looking at the potential for future growth in Europe and Canada. The company has two locations open in Toronto and two in London. The first in Paris is scheduled to open in two or three weeks, Ells said. Germany is the next market target.

The company plans to open between 155 and 165 new restaurants in 2012, the most in the company's history, said Monty Moran, Chipotle co-chief executive. Between 135 and 145 locations were expected to open before the end of fiscal 2011.

Chipotle is scheduled to report on fourth-quarter and full-year financial earnings on Feb. 1.

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