WHAT WE DO
When a Chain Isn't a "Chain"
When Chipotle opened its first store in 1993, the idea was simple: demonstrate that food served fast didn't have to be a "fast-food" experience. We
tried to avoid using a formulaic approach when creating our experience and looked to fine-dining restaurants for inspiration. We use high-quality raw ingredients, classic
cooking methods and a distinctive interior design, and have friendly people to take care of each customerfeatures that are more frequently found in the world of fine dining. When we
opened, there wasn't an industry category to describe what we were doing. Some 12 years and more than 460 stores later, we compete in a category of dining now called "fast-casual,"
the fastest growing segment of the restaurant industry, where customers expect food quality that's more in line with full-service restaurants, coupled with the speed and convenience of
lot of what we do can be related to our namesake: the chipotle pepper. A chipotle pepper is a humble jalapeño pepper that's been dried, then smoked over mesquite,
transforming its simple taste into a richly nuanced, smoky flavor. We've used that characteristic of the chipotle as an inspiration in all of the elements that shape the depth of flavor and nuance in
what we do at Chipotlegreat food accessible at reasonable prices, genuinely friendly people providing real service and a stylish atmosphere.
What We Do Really Well
We try to do a few things really well, and we plan to keep this intentionally focused strategy as we grow. We transform our food in the same way the
jalapeño is transformed into a chipotle, elevating basic raw ingredients like beans, chicken, beef, rice and vegetables into food that's richer and more sophisticated through our
recipes and cooking techniques. In preparing our food, we use gas stoves and grills, pots and pans, wire whisks and other kitchen utensils, walk-in refrigerators stocked with a variety of
fresh ingredients, and dry goods such as long-grain rice, herbs and spices. We believe that there's a parallel between our food and the design of our stores. Our store design transforms
simple materials like concrete, stainless steel and birchwood in distinctive ways, giving our stores a style that's more architectural in nature and less dependent on standardized design elements like
signs and graphics to influence the customer experience. We respect our employees and invite them to share their ideas on how to best serve our customers. We think this inspires our managers and crews
to take pride in their work and increases their dedication to our customers and our company. From our decidedly focused menu to the uncomplicated flow of our stores, simple but
thorough management and operations practices and a comparatively small inventory (about 130 items on hand, including things like chicken, steak, napkins and forks, compared to 1,000 or more in some
other fast-food establishments), keeping things simple helps us keep our focus on serving great food.
Our focus has always been on using the kinds of higher-quality ingredients and cooking techniques used in high-end restaurants to make great food
accessible at reasonable prices. But as we've grown, our vision has evolved. While using a variety of fresh ingredients remains the foundation of our menu, we believe that "fresh is not enough,
anymore." "Fresh" is just a starting point. Now we want to know where all of our ingredients come fromhow vegetables are grown and animals are raisedso that we can be sure
they are as flavorful as possible while understanding the environmental and societal impact of our business. We call this idea "food with integrity," and it guides how we run our business.
- "If you can't pronounce it, it's not in our food." We use a variety of ingredients that we purchase from
carefully selected suppliers. We concentrate on where we obtain each ingredient, and this has become a cornerstone of our continuous effort to improve our food. All of our pork, for example, comes
from pigs that are naturally raised in open pastures or deeply bedded barns. We also serve naturally raised chicken in about 35% of our stores. We continue to investigate using even more