It seems like only yesterday diners were scared to visit Chipotle for fear of getting sick. Today, it appears there are at least 85,000 people willing to risk illness for free catering. That’s the number of people who reached “Hot” status in the chain’s summer-long loyalty program, Chiptopia, and will therefore be awarded free catering for 20 people.
Chiptopia officially launched July 1, and rewarded diners based on how often they visited, rather than how much they ordered. The program included three different status levels: Mild, Medium, and Hot. Those wishing to get the highest reward (catering for 20 people) had to dine at Chipotle at least 11 times per month, three months in a row.
CNBC reports “a whopping 85,000 people are slated to receive free catering from Chipotle for successfully completing the burrito chain's loyalty program.” That comes out to approximately $20.4 million worth of catering — and a lot of burritos for each of those 85,000 people.
“Honestly, it wasn’t that difficult for me to reach ‘Hot’ status, but I go to Chipotle a lot anyway,” says Chipotle superfan Tom Canfield, who is based in D.C. and now eligible for the free catering. “Normally, I go twice a week at most. But I was determined to get the catering, so I just ensured that I went at least three times a week.”
Canfield says he began to get burned out on Chipotle by the second month, especially because he orders the same entrée at every visit: a burrito bowl with chicken, black beans, cheese, and hot salsa — plus an order of chips and an additional side of hot salsa. He estimates that he spent $462 at Chipotle over the course of the three months, July through August (keep in mind that some of those visits included meals for two people). In total, that shakes out to 45 visits in three months.
Chipotle initially launched the loyalty program as a way to draw people back to the chain after its well-publicized food safety scandal of 2015. Though Chiptopia only lasted three months, company executives have hinted that a more permanent program will eventually take its place. But if it’s as intense as it was this summer, even Chipotle megafans might be sick of eating there so often.
“During the first half of August, I was visiting family in New Hampshire, where I wasn’t near a Chipotle. Once I left New Hampshire, to stay on track for the catering, I had to start eating there what felt like every day,” says Canfield. “So once Chiptopia ended, I decided to kick the habit.” That didn’t last long. “Two days after the loyalty program had ended, I was ready to go back.”
• Chipotle to give away more than $20 million in free catering [CNBC]
• 5 Things to Know About Chipotle's New Rewards Program [E]
• All Chipotle Coverage [E]