When hometown hero Chipotle unveiled a new "Low Roller" menu last spring in Denver, featuring novel options like single tacos, small salads, pozole and kids items, some people heralded it as a disaster of biblical proportions - fire and brimstone coming down from the skies, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, that kind of stuff. What was Chipotle doing, messing with its big-ass-burrito-and-nothing-else bill of fare? A bunch of local mad men even came up with a grassroots marketing campaign, www.cheapotle.com, to demand the company go back to just big-ass burritos.
Now, more than a year later, has the predicted burrito apocalypse occurred? Have customers loved the Low Roller concept, or has Chipotle gone back to tortilla-and-bean basics? A little bit of both, says company spokesman Chris Arnold.
The Low Roller branding and marketing campaign seems to have gone by the wayside, but Arnold reports some - but not all - of the new menu items that accompanied it are still alive and well in Denver, the test market for the concept.
The big success has been the new kids menu, which offers stuff like quesadillas and chips for the pint-sized crowd. Arnold says the kids items are now rolling out across the chain nationwide.
Other new additions haven't fared so well. Chipotle has struck the small-salad option as well as single tacos from its Denver menus - although Arnold says those in the know can still order single tacos with a nod and a wink to the folks behind the counter.
As for the pozole, the most innovative addition? It's not ready for prime time, since it's not expanding to other markets, but it will continue to grace Denver Chipotles. That's good news for Arnold, since the guy dreams of the pozole topped chicken, rice and cheese on a cold day.
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"Eat it on chips," he says, "and I promise you won't regret it."
That's all well and good, but what about that old standby, the foil-wrapped, big-ass burrito? Is that changing?
"No," says Arnold.
That's exactly what we wanted to hear.