Cafe Society

Chipotle's second concept, ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen, opens in DC

Earlier this week, Fortune named Chipotle one of the country's fastest growing companies, noting that the Denver-based burrito chain, which raked in $2 billion in revenue between June of last year and June of this year, grew 23 percent in the process. Not bad, considering it's fast food (okay, fast-casual) tacos and burritos.

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.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk