Chipotle’s ‘New’ Recipe: Back to Basics

The Wall Street Journal: “Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.’s new chief executive said his recipe for reviving the burrito maker is simple: focus on improving the fast service and relatively simple menu that made the chain so popular to begin with. Brian Niccol said in an interview … that he is taking a measured approach to turning around Chipotle’s business after more than two years of weak sales in the wake of food-safety and customer service problems.”

“He said the company is hiring new field managers and restaurant employees from outside the company rather than only promoting people internally. He said Chipotle will more rigorously test new menu items and add longer hours, pickup windows for mobile orders and potentially drive-throughs at some restaurants. And he said Chipotle won’t introduce combo meals or cut prices to entice new customers.”

“Mr. Niccol, who was the chief executive of Taco Bell before taking the top job at Chipotle in March, has shrugged off calls for Chipotle to franchise stores or add breakfast items. Activist investor Bill Ackman, whose Pershing Square Capital Management is Chipotle’s largest shareholder with a stake of about 10%, has publicly urged Chipotle to serve breakfast. Mr. Niccol said he has told Mr. Ackman Chipotle needs to focus on turning around its current business first … Mr. Niccol said Chipotle can instead open restaurants earlier and keep them open later without making major menu changes.”

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