After three years of not seeing a price change, customers of Chipotle Mexican Grill can expect to see a small rise in prices. Customers who visit the restaurant chain are used to premium service and food at a premium price. Chipotle claims the rise in prices is to continue to offer those customers the best food possible.
The first Chipotle Mexican Grill opened in 1993 by chef Steve Ells in Denver, Colorado. Ells has stated that his intent for opening up the first Chipotle was to raise money to open up a fine dining restaurant. Over 20 years later, his dream of a fine dining restaurant has been pushed to the side as Chipotle has proven to be a popular choice for customers looking for fresh Mexican food. Currently there are more than 1,600 locations around the United States with a few in Canada and Europe.
Chipotle features fresh food made just as the customers like it. Many have called Chipotle “fast casual” as the customers make selections from a variety of ready-made ingredients to make items such as burritos, tacos, and salads. The simple and unchanged menu has kept things fresh as Chipotle can focus more on the quality of the ingredients they have rather than trying to come up with new menu items.
It really is the ingredients that set Chipotle in a different category than their competitors. In 1999, during a trip to a farm that supplied Chipotle with its pork, Ells saw that the pigs were kept all indoors and forced inside cages. Since then, Ells has made a commitment to only serve pork, beef, and chicken from naturally raised farms. In 2007, 100 percent of all the meat served at the restaurants are from naturally raised farms that are constantly monitored.
Chipotle Mexican Grill has a commitment to freshness, but the rise in the cost of fresh ingredients and produce has forced them to raise the prices at their restaurants. Though the company has tried to keep the prices low for customers, Chipotle would rather raise the prices slightly than have to start using industrial meat and unorganic ingredients.
One way Chipotle has been able to keep their prices as reasonable is the lack of funding for marketing. Rather than focus on advertisements of new menu items, they promote the fresh ingredients in their current menu. This has led the company to become recognized as a restaurant that uses fresh vegetables from local farms and meats from natural farms. This recognition has created a brand that people talk about and give away free advertising by way of sharing.
Chipotle has not focused on television commercials. Instead, the two-minute short animated film Back to the Start went viral online and spread wider than any television ad could. The short film tells the story of a farmer that turns his back on industrial farming and decides to return to naturally raised animals. Only the very last seconds of the short feature the Chipotle logo. This type of marketing hype has set the restaurant as a brand that customers can be proud to be a part of.
Though dedicated customers may be shocked to hear that Chipotle Mexican Grill is raising prices, people who follow the business news have known it was coming since last year. Chipotle announced the need to raise prices while also making a statement that they were trying everything they could to avoid it. That dedication to its customer shows why people line up at the counter to support the restaurant, its brand, and its mission.
By Raul Hernandez