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This Popular Fast-Food Chain's Portion Sizes Are Shrinking

And frankly, we had it coming.
chipotle workers assembling burritos

Most of us can admit we've guilt-tripped a server at Chipotle into loading our burrito or bowl with just a little more carnitas or salsa than they wanted to give us. And although restaurants are usually aware of this occurrence, they are resolved to accepting a certain amount of financial losses due to the imperfect system of portioning in an assembly line. But much to our dissatisfaction, it seems that the days of getting on-the-spot freebies may be over. (To find out which restaurants may be leaving your town, check out 9 Restaurant Chains That Closed Hundreds of Locations This Summer.)

Turns out, the pandemic may be working in Chipotle's favor in combating this widespread problem. As the chain is fulfilling more digital orders than ever, they have also discovered that one unexpected side effect of preparing meals away from the customer's watchful eye, is that they are better able to serve more consistent portion sizes. As much as that's great news for them, the customers will surely be less thrilled.

Jack Hartung, the chain's CFO, recently revealed at a conference that the portion sizes for their menu items are now much more precise. Customers are no longer benefiting from the social pressure put on their servers to oblige the "little more, please" requests free of charge.

"We're not restricting what the customer is allowed to do, either in terms of portion or in terms of adding additional ingredients," he said. "But our portion sizes are much more consistent because there's not somebody pointing at every single pan … the crew will see just the way that a customer is looking at them and think, 'Oh, I better put another scoop in.'"

When placing an order on Chipotle's app, customers can still select an extra serving of any ingredient they want, but they're automatically charged an additional fee for it. You mean, we'll have to get used to getting exactly what we paid for? Somehow we feel robbed.

The chain predicts that this temporary benefit to their bottom line may become permanent, as digital ordering is likely to stick around after the pandemic. Hartung added this is also prompting Chipotle to improve their execution on the front line when people are ordering in person.

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Mura Dominko
Mura Dominko is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!. Read more
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