Denver-based burrito behemoth Chipotle has been riding a bit of a struggle bus over the past few years. From a litany of lawsuits and E. coli outbreaks to plummeting stocks and a dazzlingly disappointing attempt at queso, the former king of fast casual has been displaced. Their attempts at reclaiming the throne have included heartfelt apologies, loyalty programs (Chiptopia, anyone?), and a focus on food safety — with modest results.
Chipotle’s latest efforts to woo their once-loyal customer base include app upgrades, a potential “happy hour”, and a take on avocado toast. Instead of getting back to basics, is Chipotle just getting back to “basic”?
Guac ain’t extra
Ah, avocados. They might be the reason we’re having some trouble getting into the real estate game, but we just can’t seem to quit them. Chipotle gets it. Sure, the guac on the side of your burrito will still cost extra. But perhaps in an attempt to garner millennial favor once more, the salsa-slingers are pulling out the big stops with their new menu item: tostadas.
Imagine your favorite avocado toast with a Tex-Mex twist. Crispy corn tortilla smothered in guacamole and then topped with salsa, lettuce, and cheese. And, at 380 calories and less than $4, we might be able to afford those homes after all.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
In addition to boarding the avo toast(ada) train and adding some other menu items like quesadillas and nachos, Chipotle’s going to be rolling out a few operational improvements. While their new tech is still only in test sites, they’re pushing for a streamlined mobile ordering process which aim to get your tacos and burrito bowls in hand (and mouth) at record speeds. And, maybe modeling after some other successful salad spots, their pick-up shelves should make skipping the line a breeze. There are even whispers of a potential “happy hour” concept to promote purchases during slower periods.
Can Chipotle 2.0 provide the glow-up the brand needs to capture their once-rapt audience of barbacoa bros and fajita fiends? Or will their efforts to breathe life back into their burritos fall short? Time will tell, but, in the meantime, can someone pass us a tostada?