Chipotle founder Steve Ells's $85,000 investment that foiled the world

Saturday, July 13, marks the twentieth anniversary of Chipotle Mexican Grill, the homegrown burrito chain that Steve Ells opened near the University of Denver in 1993. His $85,000 investment -- a loan from his parents -- has since spawned more than 1,400 stores around the world, making Chipotle the holy grail of bulging burrito supremacy. And in this week's Chef and Tell interview -- also this week's cover story -- I interview Ells, the founder, co-CEO and chairman of the Chipotle empire.

See also: - Chipotle founder Steve Ells discusses the ingredients behind two decades in business - Chipotle's Steve Ells named "America's Most Inspiring CEO " by Esquire -Steve Ells first brought Chipotle to Denver, now the Cultivate Festival

In that interview, I learned, among other tidbits, that there are thirteen "characteristics" required of Chipotle employees, who now number more than 40,000. One is "infectious enthusiasm." Another is "happy" -- you must be happy. Half-time happy doesn't cut it.

Truth be told, I wouldn't make the cut, but you might have better luck. To find out what other personality traits Ells and his management team look for when they hire crew members, many of whom are long-time employees who have moved up through the ranks, read Ells's provocative interview here.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >