For years, Chipotle was the Taylor Swift of American fast casual—the favorite, the one that could do no wrong. And that’s because the burrito chain was the first ever to deliver high quality, locally-sourced fast food to the masses. But after years of top-notch service and killer tacos, disaster struck. In the fall of 2015 through early 2016, the brand was linked to several E. Coli, norovirus, and salmonella outbreaks across the nation—the worst of which infected 52 people and sent 20 to the hospital in the Portland area.
If you’re anything like us, the Chipotle food crisis (which we lovingly refer to as “that time Chipotle transformed into Kanye West”) turned your world upside down. Your life probably seemed perfectly in order, then poof, all of a sudden your once-a-week (or, perhaps three-times-a- week) burrito bowl was snatched away from you, leaving you unsure of where to grab lunch. And worse, wondering if the Chipotle Empire was crumbling for good. But thankfully, Chipotle isn’t backing down. Your favorite Tex-Mex chain is taking steps to improve the safety of its menu and restore some order to your lunch-iverse. Curious what Chipotle is doing to get their golden reputation back? Their rebound plan is comprised of two primary strategies: improved marketing campaigns and increased food safety regulations.
To keep your favorite food safe as well as tasty, the chain is now testing several of its ingredients with high-res DNA technology. This way, foodborne illnesses can be identified before pounds of foods are shipped to thousands of locations. Use of this technology is an initiative that’s far more advanced than most competitors in the industry. It’s even more high-tech than standard government food safety protocol! The chain has also changed how certain foods are prepared, washed and cooked. Further, they’ve improved their staff training and now offer paid-sick-leave to ensure that employees aren’t handling food while carrying any icky sniffle bugs.
We admit that we like what we’re hearing, and many customers do, too. But a fair share of former-Chipotle fans aren’t so loyal—and the company knows this. That’s why they’re brewing up additional ways to get skeptics back in their front doors. In years past, Chipotle has stayed away from marketing schemes and promotions, but desperate times call for desperate measures. This past spring, Chipotle launched a loyalty program, began advertising on television and online (something new for them), and even started doing periodic giveaways. But the best new Chipotle change to come out of the marketing reboot? Menu additions! Chipotle has expanded their simple menu to include new items like chorizo and creative cocktails with the hope that customers won’t be able to resist trying new twists on their favorite dishes.
Keep your fingers crossed, Chipotle-lovers! Hopefully this multi-step plan will help keep your favorite Tex-Mex brand alive—and safe to eat—for the long haul.