What are the "critical seven" ingredients at Chipotle Mexican Grill? Hint: It has nothing to do with calorie count. The Wall Street Journal recently visited the insanely popular fast-casual chain, revealing that the company's employees are "trained to be stingy" with higher-priced ingredients like steak, carnitas, and guacamole. (Chicken, barbacoa, cheese, and sour cream round out the critical seven list.) According to the WSJ's look inside company's employee handbook, burrito-makers are instructed to dole out one four-ounce scoop of meat, one-ounce portions of cheese, and four-ounce portions of guacamole in each bowl. Workers are also instructed to retain eye contact with customers to "gauge their satisfaction level" with the portion size going into their burrito bowls.
According to the handbook, customers that ask for a "little extra" of the critical seven items should be informed they'll be charged extra — and the book even comes with some pro-tips so employees don't over-serve. Workers are encouraged to "grasp spoons toward the bottom so they have more control over the portions," and an appropriate one-ounce cheese serving is apparently measured by a three-finger "pinch" of cheese.
Chipotle's fourth-quarter 2014 revenue saw the chain rake in $1.07 billion, but the chain reported its food costs ate up 35 percent of revenue in that same time frame. For 2014, the chain reported that its food costs suffered "an increase of 120 basis points due primarily to higher beef, avocado, and dairy costs, partially offset by the menu price increase." One item that's apparently not worth pinching pennies over: The tofu Sofritas that act as Chipotle's go-to vegan option. Have as many of those as you want, folks.