It seems a bedrock of the Chipotle brand has failed to translate to the fast-casual company’s new burger concept, Tasty Made. The new fast-food chain, like its burrito slinging predecessor, had sought to differentiate itself from the competition with “responsibly-raised” hormone- and antibiotic-free meat. However, as Nation’s Restaurant News reports, the first Tasty Made restaurant in Lancaster, Ohio, has abandoned that ingredient in favor of less expensive, conventionally-raised beef.
Prices have also dropped significantly since the restaurant’s opening in October, with a double cheeseburger going from more than $6 to $4.10. An analyst says switch to a more typical meat patty and corresponding price drop was in response to customers who complained that the prices were too high. The changes appear to be eliciting some positive responses from customers who praised the new prices on social media:
While the return to conventional meat products might seem like a loss for the company which gained a following for serving “food with integrity,” Nomura analyst Mark Kalinowski notes that Tasty Made customers were mostly unaware of the more expensive beef. “It took time for brand Chipotle to move toward [for example] non-commodity pork, and similarly, it may take time for the Tasty Made to become established before it moves away from commodity beef.” Eater has reached out to Tasty Made for more details on the changes to its ingredients.
One thing that does appear to be working out for Tasty Made: the drive-thru. The burger restaurant touts the Chipotle group’s first-ever drive-thru, and according to the report Tasty Made is doing 52 percent of its business through that window. Tasty Made is also now sending out employees with iPads to take orders from customers in the drive-thru line, increasing its comparisons to fast-food favorite In-N-Out Burger.
Despite some lackluster customer reviews from sites like Yelp, Chipotle reported positive numbers and says it’s “happy with how the restaurant is doing in its early days.” A second Tasty Made location is expected to debut in Pickerington, Ohio, by mid-February.
Update, 12/13, 11:30 a.m.: In a statement to Eater regarding the changes on Tasty Made’s menu, a spokesman for Chipotle suggests that the company is focusing on customer experience and may look for ways to improve ingredients in the future:
Tasty Made has only been open for a couple of months, and I’d encourage you to think of it like Chipotle in the earliest days. In the beginning, Chipotle served food made with high quality, whole, unprocessed ingredients prepared using classic cooking techniques and the move to things like Responsibly Raised meat, pasture-raised dairy, and local or organically grown produce came later.
In the beginning, our emphasis at Chipotle was introducing the restaurant, providing a really compelling experience that was relevant to our guests, a demonstrating a viable business model. Tasty Made is very much in that stage, where our focus is on things like introducing the restaurant and perfecting the experience. Like Chipotle in the early days, it serves food made with whole, unprocessed ingredients, and prepared in the restaurant. In time, Chipotle found ways to improve the quality of ingredients we used (including Responsibly Raised meats, pasture-raised dairy, and local and organically grown produce), and we anticipate that we’ll do the same at Tasty Made. Finally, I’d also note that few, if any, of the other “better burger” places are using Responsibly Raised beef (or beef raised under similar protocols).
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