Foodservice Equipment Reports

Chipotle Moving Forward With Asian Concept

Rumors abound, but other than a report that Chipotle Mexican Grill has registered the name ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, almost nothing is known about the Denver chain’s previously announced fast-casual Asian concept debut.

Chipotle said last fall that founder Steve Ells and a small team were developing an Asian fast-casual concept expected to debut this summer. The company has since provided few details about the project, saying only that it would be similar in pricing and service format to Chipotle, and would follow the chain’s “Food with Integrity” philosophy of using hormone-free meats, locally grown produce and organic ingredients where possible.

Chipotle is not disclosing any details about the new concept, including its name, menu or location, until closer to the opening. More might be learned March 8 when Chipotle and other chains make presentations at an international investors’ conference.

A little more is known about plans for the Chipotle brand. The Denver-based chain, which currently operates 1,084 restaurants, including two in Canada and one in London, plans to open between 135-145 stores in 2011, including its first store in Paris. That store, like the majority of new units, will open in the second half of the year.

In an update to our recent report on the chain’s firings in Minnesota last year, Chipotle has revealed that it fired 450 employees—more than a third of its workforce in the state. The firings came after an I-9 audit by Homeland Security over a lack of proper documentation for some employees. Before the firings, Chipotle employed 1,200 workers in its 50 outlets, most of them in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

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