4

Chipotle to roll out an Asian fast-casual restaurant

^
Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

When Steve Ells opened the very first Chipotle Mexican Grill at 1644 East Evans Avenue seventeen years ago, he didn't anticipate it growing into a massive burrito-hawking chain, one that would infiltrate every city in the country and woo fans with sustainably-raised food that happens to taste damn good. No, Culinary Institute of America grad Ells just wanted to generate some cash for a "real restaurant," the kind with linen tablecloths and a good wine list. So he took a page from the book of burrito-mongers in San Francisco's Mission district and started making gourmet burritos and tacos in an old Dolly Madison ice cream shop near the University of Denver.

The Chipotle concept proved unstoppable. By the time I started working for the company in 2005, it had amassed hundreds of outlets, millions of fans and a mission: to change the way people think about and eat fast food.

And now, as the Chipotle empire continues to grow, Ells has announced something sure to make diehard fans swoom: He's planning to open another fast-casual restaurant concept sometime next year, keeping the same Chipotle values and quality while translating them to an Asian menu.

"Steve has thought off and on for many years about cuisines that might work well in the Chipotle model," says Chris Arnold, Chipotle's director of public relations. "This concept is really about good food from sustainable ingredients that's accessible in a way that's approachable by the mainstream. He's ready to test that on something else."

The new restaurant will employ the Chipotle model, including interactive service and a system that allows customers to choose what goes into their own individual menu. The focus on quality ingredients from sustainable sources will also carry over.

The company is tight-lipped about specific details right now. "We want to leave a little mystery," Arnold explains. "We want people to discover the restaurant the way they discovered Chipotle."

So plans for the menu and initial location remain secret. Arnold says that Ells is working with just a handful of people within the company on the plans, which currently call for just one restaurant.

With a bit of luck, though, that restaurant, much like Chipotle, could take on a life of its own, growing into another high-quality chain in the fast-casual segment and, you know, changing the way people think about and eat fast food.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

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.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.