When news broke late last year that Chipotle's Steve Ells was drawing up plans for an Asian fast-casual concept, the company refused to divulge much. "We want to leave a little mystery," Chris Arnold, director of public relations for the company, explained.
But word's starting to leak out about what might be in store, and now we have a potential name: The company registered ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office back in January, according to Nation's Restaurant News.
Officially, the company still isn't saying much; it won't even confirm that ShopHouse is, indeed, the name of the venture. But the idea of Southeast Asian cuisine certainly gives speculators a little more to go on.
It's widely rumored that the prototype ShopHouse will be located in Washington, D.C., and open this spring, and we also hear whispers that the concept will apply the idea of the Chipotle line to Asian cuisine, drawing inspiration from the entire continent. We're also betting it uses rice or noodle bowls as a base.
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Last fall, Arnold told us that the new project will draw from the Chipotle mantra of interactive service and Food With Integrity. So we're expecting that the menu will focus on top-notch ingredients -- and recipes unlike anything else in the market. After all, Ells applied French culinary techniques to the burrito; we're banking on an equally creative twist here.
And fittingly, given all the silence around this move, we're pretty sure that whenever the first ShopHouse opens, it's going to do so quietly -- or as quietly as it can, with word of its name now out.