Chipotle not only is changing its food-handling procedures to win back customers—it’s changing the menu with a new offshoot. The burritos-with-purpose purveyor has confirmed that it plans to get into the artisanal-burgers business by opening a new fast casual restaurant chain it’s calling Tasty Made in Central Ohio (Lancaster, to be exact) this fall.
While the Chipotle brand continues to woo back customers in the wake of its food-safety crisis last year, the company has remained undaunted about taking its all-natural, simple-ingredient formula into new territories, even one as clearly choked as the fast-casual burger segment, where a proliferation of competitors ranges from Five Guys to Shake Shack (which just had a huge launch in Seoul, Korea), from Smashburgers to B Spot. This will not be a field that Chipotle gets to define, as it did with its fast-casual, all-natural burritos.
Connecting to its Chipotle mission, the first Tasty Made will open featuring Responsibly Raised brand beef (from animals that are raised humanely without use of antibiotics or added hormones); shakes made only with pure ingredients such as eggs and cream; and fresh-made burger buns lacking preservatives, dough conditioners or other artificial ingredients,
“We think there’s great strength in the original fast food model and wanted to create a restaurant built around that,” stated Chipotle founder and chairman Steve Ells. “Making only burgers, fries and shakes with really great ingredients, we think we can appeal to people’s timeless love of burgers, but in a way that is consistent with our long-term vision.”
“Chipotle has been focused on a long-term vision to change the way people think about and eat fast food,” he added. “At the heart of that is our commitment to great quality ingredients and classic cooking techniques—traits that are absolutely necessary to make the best tasting food, and that can be applied to number of kinds of cuisine.”
Initially, the concept was to be called Better Burger, according to a Chipotle trademark registration filing. Chipotle also has been building out other fast casual restaurant brands including ShopHouse Kitchen, a Southeast Asian concept with locations in Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles, and Pizzeria Locale.
Chipotle execs say their efforts to re-build the trust of consumers in their flagship Chipotle brand following the E. coli scare are beginning to gain traction. Chipotle also is in the midst of a new ad campaign in the US and Canada, which spokesman Chris Arnold spoke with us about.
In that animated video, titled “A Love Story,” Chipotle recounts the tale of fast food entrepreneurs who end up doing things the “right” way and opening a little stand “with integrity” — a tale with a happy ending the company now hopes extends to Tasty Made as well.
So why is Lancaster, Ohio, a town of about 40,000 people, getting the first location for Chipotle’s fourth brand?
“Chipotle is very strong in that part of the country, both operationally and in terms of brand awareness,” Arnold commented to Columbia Business First. “We thought opening there would give us a chance to see how the restaurant would be received by mainstream consumers and Chipotle loyalists.”