The million -- or billion -- dollar question, though, is this: Can they do it again?
They're certainly trying. ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen opened its doors yesterday in Washington, D.C., revealing a sparse space lined with wooden booths that delivers a menu rooted in the flavors of Southeast Asian food, though the dishes certainly aren't traditionalist. In a line similar to Chipotle's, patrons choose banh mi sandwiches or bowls, which come with rice or noodles, and then build from proteins like chicken satay and tofu and pork and chicken meatballs, veggies like Chinese broccoli and charred corn and garnishes like green papaya slaw and herb salad. Concoctions get topped with curry-based sauces and roasted garlic or peanuts.
Steve Ells, Chipotle's founder and co-CEO, set it up this way intentionally, building ShopHouse to show that the company's model and commitment to fresh ingredients and "Food With Integrity" extends beyond just Mexican food. He's been hard at work with chefs Nate Appleman, a James Beard Rising Star Chef-award winner, and Kyle Connaughton, formerly of the Fat Duck in London, developing recipes for over a year.
No word yet on when the new concept may expand or come to Denver. Chris Arnold, spokesman for the company, hinted that the company plans to let ShopHouse gain its own following and grow naturally.