Top 10 Untold Truths of Chipotle It’s been a rough few years for Chipotle,
the Mexican food chain that was the darling of the industry for most of the past two decades. Chipotle, at its peak, was the model for what
a Mexican chain could be and because of that, it was met with a ton of copycats and competition. This along with the mostly food-borne illness
scandals have brought Chipotle close to bankruptcy and in danger of completely collapsing. So, with that in mind, get your small intestine
ready as we look into the Top 10 Untold Truths of Chipotle. Oh, and just so you know, guacamole’s extra. The Founder of Chipotle
Steve Ells, is a “Real” Chef Chipotle was founded by Steve Ells, who attended
the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and after that, he landed
a gig that would change his life, as a line cook for Jeremiah Tower at Stars in San Francisco. It was there that he learned not only how
to cook Mexican dishes like Taquerias and “San Francisco Burritos” but also, and perhaps
most importantly, how immensely popular they both are inside and outside of the Mission
District of San Francisco (the Mission district is famous for its taquerias and Mexican food
in general thanks to its high concentration of Salvadorian, Guatemalan and Nicaraguan
people and restaurants). After acquiring a loan of $85,000 from his
father, Ells opened the first Chipotle in Denver, Colorado near the University of Denver
using what he had learned at Jeremiah Tower, and from there he was able to test his version
of the San Francisco and Mission burrito and almost immediately he realized that he had
a hit on his hands, opening the second Chipotle location a little under two years after the
first using solely money from the first store and not from a loan, which is generally unheard
of in the restaurant industry. Liking this video so far? Hit that subscribe button and click that notification
bell. Chipotle was Ten Times more profitable than
they’d hoped The first Chipotle restaurant was opened in
1993 thanks to a loan from Steve Ells’ father. While $85,000 is a relatively small loan especially
when the costs of opening a new restaurant are taken into account, Ells and his father
realized that he’d need to sell 107 burritos a day to break even at his first location
near the University of Denver. While it was still only a one location restaurant
at that point, people in the early-to-mid 90’s weren’t used to getting high quality
Mexican fast food, especially not with fresh ingredients that you can see while the chef
is making your order – and it was a combination of those factors that lead Chipotle to explode
nearly overnight. After just a month in business, Ells has stated
that he was making over 1,000 burritos a day, which is ten times the amount he needed to
break even, and was enough to allow him to open a second location in a year and a half
without having to take out a loan. While the third location was opened thanks
to a loan, his father clearly saw that he had a winning concept and decided to invest
$1.5 million into his son’s restaurants, which clearly has paid itself back in spades over
the years. The First Chipotle was Located Inside an Ice
Cream Shop with a Famous Name For Chipotle’s first location, Ells chose
a spot near the University of Denver with a lot of history behind it as it was once
named Dolly Madison Ice Cream. Dolly Madison was the First Lady of the United
States back when James Madison was in office and she actually served ice cream at her husband’s
inaugural ball way back in 1813. Because people didn’t have refrigerators let
alone freezers back then, the concept of ice cream was completely foreign, and because
of that Madison is widely credited with popularizing ice cream with the masses and so it’s just
a weird coincidence that the person that is credited with popularizing the “Mission Burrito”
to the masses set up shop in a restaurant named after the woman who was famous for popularizing
ice cream. If the name Dolly Madison sounds familiar
and you’re not a history buff, it’s because Hostess Brands, the people behind Twinkies,
also have a bakery as part of their business known as Dolly Madison Bakery (which is also
based on the first lady) and while it’s not actually connected to the first lady herself
(as it was founded in 1937 and she was alive in the early part of the 19th Century, it
was based on the brand of ice cream that was named after her. Dolly Madison nearly disappeared back when
Hostess announced it’s plans to go out of business in 2012, however it was saved along
with Twinkies by Apollo Global Management when they acquired nearly everything Hostess
in January of 2013. The Interior of Chipotle Looks Rough for a
Reason If you could choose one word to describe the
interior of a Chipotle you’d most likely come up with a word like “rough”, “Industrial”
or “Tetanus” and while a lot of restaurants spend thousands upon thousands of dollars
to create a theme and it very well could’ve been a conscious choice, the reality is that
because of the limited budget that Chipotle founder Steve Ells had when he opened the
first Chipotle, he couldn’t afford to hire an interior decorator or to buy fancy interior
decor. Instead, most of the original Chipotle was
decorated with items from the hardware store which explains all of the metal and junction
boxes. Speaking of those junction boxes, the original
light fixtures were a combination of metal junction boxes and porcelain lamp holders
that contained a single halogen bulb, something that was replicated across the country as
Chipotle expanded. So, they sometimes say that it costs a lot
of money to look cheap but apparently, that wasn’t the case in terms of at least the first
Chipotle, as the items in those early restaurants were actually exactly what they appeared to
be. Whether or not that’s safe or wise doesn’t
really matter as it clearly worked and isn’t something that Chipotle has moved away from,
over 25 years later. They also say that it’s important to stand
out than to blend in and it’s that decor that gives Chipotle a distinct feeling and ambiance
– so perhaps Ells went into the wrong business when he chose cooking over home decor. Chipotle Wasn’t Always Anti-Biotic Free One of the reasons that Chipotle initially
blew up onto the scene was its commitment to antibiotic-free chicken. You see, in order to keep their animals healthy
and to limit losses due to diseases, farmers have historically force fed their livestock
a ton of antibiotics, which is partially the reason that bacteria are becoming resistant
to antibiotics in both animals and humans. One could say that Chipotle was one of the
main reasons that antibiotic-free livestock became as popular a concept as it has been,
with most restaurants, fast food or otherwise, committing to using antibiotic-free livestock
in recent years (with McDonald’s doing the same for its Chicken McNuggets). So you may be surprised to hear that the concept
wasn’t immediate for Chipotle, in fact, it took a good six-years for Chipotle to move
towards antibiotic-free chicken after founder Steve Ells read an article in The Art of Eating
about farmers in Iowa raising hogs in “super-regulated environments”. Ells asked to taste some of the pork from
those pigs and realized that they tasted a lot better and so after that, he started the
decision to focus on fresh ingredients and antibiotic-free meat, right before the turn
of the millennium. Billions and Billions of chickens and pigs
have those delicious Iowan pigs to thank for that, or maybe they don’t since they might
be getting sick without the medication. But Chipotle is so well known for its antibiotic-free
stance that Ells has testified in front of Congress about the practice and what he thinks
it means for the future of farming. Free Cat Toy at Chipotles If you’ve ever wondered why basically every
single ad on television or in print has so much small print, this story will basically
answer that for you. Back in 1998, before Chipotle became the household
name that it is today, they ran an ad in print that showed a rolled up tin-foil ball that
stated: “Free Cat Toy with Every Purchase”. Now, if you’ve ever been to Chipotle you’ll
get the joke, as they serve their products in tin foil, and thus you’re always left with
a little ball of tin-foil (and lots and lots of shame) after you’re done eating there. However, people didn’t get the joke and actually
started showing up to Chipotle locations asking for the cat toy around that time
and so they had to stop running the ad, which considering we’re still talking about it twenty
years later means it was either genius or a complete disaster. Either way it did get people in the door so
it couldn’t have been all bad, although if the internet has taught us anything it’s that
you don’t want to piss off cat people, so I’m sure they ended up handing out a few free
burritos to the more particular of the bunch and then adding a bunch of small print to
their ads in the future. It Pays to Manage a Chipotle Sometimes you hear that progressive companies
might not live up to their ideals when it comes to paying their own employees or really
even treating those people with respect, but when it comes to Chipotle that really isn’t
the case, thankfully. In fact, Chipotle can end up paying you really
well if you’re a general manager through a program called the “Elite Restauranteur Program”. That program attempts to recruit new general
managers who in turn are meant to recruit and retain new talent and it awards them with
an initial bonus and stock options as well as a bonus of $10,000 if they hire someone
who also ends up becoming a general manager. While that may sound like a pyramid scheme
keep in mind that the Aztec and Mayans did in fact have pyramids of their own, even if
they ended up looking more like parallelograms than standard pyramids. Either way, this sort of goes against the
idea that working for a fast-food restaurant doesn’t pay, as long as you’re in charge of
the entire restaurant (or multiple restaurants) and the people you hire end up doing the exact
same thing, you’ll be fine. While that always runs a risk that you’ll
be replaced by your own recruit, it’s probably worth it for the chance that you’ll get $10,000
on your next paycheck. Think of all the extra guacamole you’ll be
able to buy! Chipotle has a Secret Menu… But there’s a catch If you’ve spent any time on the internet you’ll
know that most fast-food restaurants can make items that aren’t on the menu. People call that a “Secret Menu” but really
all it is is a mixture of whatever they have on the menu. Like adding Chicken McNuggets to your Big
Mac (as in, under the bread), and while you can’t ask for just anything (as they have
to be able to ring it up in the system), most places can be pretty accommodating when it
comes to making something like the “Air, Land and Sea Sandwich” from McDonald’s that includes
a beef patty, a Filet O’ Fish Patty and a Chicken patty (get it?). So, like most fast food companies, Chipotle
has a secret menu, the Quesarito, which is exactly what it sounds like, a burrito with
a quesadilla where the tortilla should be. While it sounds like that Taco Bell taco that
has chicken instead of a tortilla this one isn’t that bad for you and is actually quite
delicious. Just don’t ask for it when there’s a super
long line as it takes time to create and they may refuse to make it if they’re crunched
for time. Luckily for you, since 2016 most Chipotle’s
aren’t that busy anymore, so just remember it’s the Quesarito and it very well may save
Chipotle in the end. You Can Get Free Chipotle Burritos Everyday
for a Year… If… It’s said that only when you’re rich and famous
will people begin to give you things for free and perhaps the best example of that is the
Free Card that Chipotle gives its famous fans. That’s right, if you’re famous and have made
it clear that you love Chipotle they’ll send you a card that is good for free Chipotle
“for life”, although it is said that the cards actually expire after one year which is about
the amount of time that most people are at the peak of their fame. A few famous people have posted about their
“for life” cards including Bryce Harper, who plays baseball for the Washington Nationals
and Steven Tyler, the lead singer of Aerosmith. Why would Chipotle give away these “for life”
and where did the name come from if they’re not actually good for life? The answer is that famous people can influence
other people and by sending these cards out to people who have talked about Chipotle in
their interviews before they’re increasing the chance that famous people will not only
post about the card on their social media but also that they’ll attend Chipotle once
or twice that year and post about that on their social media. The reason they’re called “For Life” cards
is mainly due to a misunderstanding by some (like the aforementioned Bryce Harper) who
thought his card was good for life while it was actually just good for a year. Either way, that’s one year of free Chipotle
and that’s really more than enough to last someone a lifetime. McDonald’s Does NOT Own Chipotle Around the turn of the century, people started
saying that Chipotle had been purchased by none other than McDonald’s. There was a lot of fear from the Chipotle
purists that McDonald’s would ruin their favorite restaurant by either changing the menu or
introducing less quality ingredients in the name of making a quick buck. Now there’s some truth to that but it’s not
exactly what you think. Back around that time when Chipotle went into
hardcore expansion mode, it needed financial backers to help it do just that and McDonald’s
happened to be one of the companies that put their money behind Chipotle. That doesn’t mean, though, that McDonald’s
OWNS Chipotle, at all, it just means that they made a lot of money from Chipotle’s expansion
around the early-to-mid aughts and that it helped them grow into new markets by sharing
their market data. So, while it’d be easy to blame McDonald’s
for the problems that Chipotle has had as of late, the reality is that those were all
done by the same people who originally started Chipotle. Don’t go run out in search of your nearest
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