> Sole CEO Sees Changes for Chipotle - The Food Safety Company Sole CEO Sees Changes for Chipotle - The Food Safety Company
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    Friday, 16 December 2016

    Sole CEO Sees Changes for Chipotle

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    In December of 2015, Chipotle Mexican Grill was responsible for sickening 60 customers, 22 of which were hospitalised. Those who fell ill were affected by E. coli. The incident, spanning 14 states, sent the once quite popular food chain spiralling into the depths of disregard. Acting quickly after learning of the initial outbreak, Chipotle closed 43 restaurants in Washington and Oregon. Before reopening, the restaurants underwent a rigorous examination (2,500 tests) to ensure that no E. coli remained on surfaces, in food, or on equipment. That wasn’t enough to assuage consumers, and stocks plummeted 34% in the last year; people avoided open stores as if entering would suddenly cause leprosy. The outbreak had broken the responsibly-sourced, eco-conscious brand.

    For a long time, Chipotle held the crown as the most popular brand selling Mexican-inspired food according to a survey done by Harris Poll. Moe’s Southwest Grill, a Tex-Mex chain with far fewer locations than Chipotle, became people’s go-to for burritos. At the moment, Chipotle has 2,200 locations across five countries while Moe’s has 600 locations in America. Speaking from personal experience, I much prefer Chipotle.

    Yesterday, an announcement circulated stating that co-CEO Monty Moran will be leaving the company come 2017. Steve Ells, co-CEO, will drop the “co” from his title, assuming full control. First on his agenda is to change the mission statement for Chipotle. Having one person in control will give Chipotle consistency, a quality it was lacking in past years: “Steve founded Chipotle more than 23 years ago with a powerful vision to use great ingredients prepared skilfully by hand, but served very fast … as the company grew, operations became more complicated and less consistent. Given the ongoing challenges facing the company, the board felt strongly that it was best for Steve to resume leadership of the company going forward. This will ensure that his high standards for the guest experience and his unyielding commitment to the company’s mission are top priorities.”

    Img source: Flickr
    Much in the way a Subway operates, Chipotle allows customers to customize their orders with different toppings, fillings, and sauces. Chipotle is the superior, burrito-toting version of a Subway. As a classically trained chef, Ells is intimately familiar with the goings-on in kitchens. With Chipotle he was able to create a unique dining experience where the food served is of restaurant-quality without the long wait time.

    Founded in 1993 with a loan from Ells’ father, Chipotle started off with that simple idea. In the couple decades since, Chipotle has strayed from the vision Ells had. The recent announcement naming him as the sole CEO has already set the wheels turning, “Even though it’s a simple idea, operations have become over-complicated. I’m very much looking forward to relentlessly focusing on ensuring an excellent guest experience, removing unnecessary complexity from our operations, championing innovation, and pursuing our mission of making better food accessible to more people.”

    Walking into a Chipotle, the setting is uncomplicated and just a tad industrial. The menu is straightforward, presented above the serving station. A very important aspect for each and every Chipotle is stressing the integrity of their food. The place doesn’t condone artificial flavours or fillers, choosing to source from responsible produce farmers and ranchers who give treat their livestock as animals should be treated. There are no GMOs at Chipotle. The company has made their stance on the industrialisation of livestock and use of artificial ingredients clear with some charming animated videos (below). Previously, the company mission was to “change the way people think about and eat fast food.” With Ells’ assumption of power, the company will now “ensure that better food, prepared from whole, unprocessed ingredients is accessible to everyone.”

    Ells has gained invaluable insight into the industry since founding the first Chipotle, “I’ve become a champion for ingredients that are raised with respect for people, animals, and the environment. I will also continue to advocate for food made simply, without processed ingredients, which is the kind of food I believe should be available to everyone.”

    Despite Ells’ big plans, his full control doesn’t inspire confidence in all. Howard Penney, a consumer analyst at Hedgeye Risk Management said to Quartz, “He just doesn’t have the skill set to run a big company like this, and he doesn’t have the skill set to turn it around either.”

    Jacqui Litvan

    Jacqui Litvan, wielding a bachelor's degree in English, strives to create a world of fantasy amidst the ever-changing landscape of military life. Attempting to become a writer, she fuels herself with coffee (working as a barista) and music (spending free time as a raver).
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