Friday, February 3, 2012

Chipotle speaks

When Chipotle executives speak, other restaurateurs snap their heads to listen. Here to save them a little neck strain are the pearls from management’s conference call Wednesday with Chipotle investors:

Co-CEO Steve Ells, on the first ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen:
While we're still working to perfect the concept, it reminds me very much of the first Chipotle when it originally opened. Many current customers aren't quite sure how the system works or what to order when they first come in and sometimes have issues with flavor combinations or the level of spice in their food. But they like it and from the very beginning, you see that the customers are coming back, week after week.

Ells, on Obamacare:
We, today, have a limited insurance program that we offer our crew. Most of our crew chose not to pick that up. And so we would go from very few of our crew being involved in the voluntary program to us being required to provide insurance to all of our employees. So it would be pretty significant change to our business
Co-CEO Monty Moran, on Chipotle’s Restaurateur management development program (where managers get a big bonus for hiring employees who then become managers):
This GM taught all of us a lesson: She came from a Restaurateur store herself and had a strong vision for what a winning team looked like. Weeks before her new store opened, she spent days on the sidewalk in front of her new restaurant, interviewing candidates for crew positions…Once she had selected her team, she trained each of them in an existing Chipotle and then invited all of them to her apartment to explain to them her vision for her restaurant and to watch videos from the 2010 All Managers Conference to be sure that each of these people understood Chipotle's unique culture. She made a commitment to each of them to help them grow and carefully described exactly how they would be able to become managers and future leaders at Chipotle themselves. At the same time, she secured a commitment from each of them to devote themselves fully to becoming part of the Restaurateur store very quickly.

Moran, on seasonal changes in traffic:
Our peak hour transactions are sort of more in the 100 range during the winter months. And during the summer months, it's historically gotten up sort of more in that 110 to 115 range…Obviously, with this coming spring and summer season, we hope to set some new records in those areas because of our new emphasis
Ells, on menu development:
One of the reasons that we continue to grow so strongly is because we continue to improve our core offerings, which is what people come for. We have experimented here and there with a new menu item. We've tried soup. We've tried chili. We've tried smaller menu items, single taco, things like this. But it seems that people keep coming back for their chicken burrito or their barbacoa tacos or whatever it is that they've landed on.

Bonus tidbit:
Brown rice, one of the chain's most recent menu additions, now accounts for about a third of all rice served by the chain.

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