Struggling burrito giant Chipotle has had a rough go of it lately, dealing with public health disasters, lawsuits, and a nearly 40 percent decline in value on Wall Street. The company already has a plan to get its Tex-Mex back on the right track, but it may be hedging its bets by diversifying. On March 11, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. filed a trademark application for "Better Burger."
Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold tells Bloomberg the chain is, in fact, looking to potentially grow through a new concept, and he notes Chipotle already has two other brands in business. "We have two non-Chipotle growth seeds open now — ShopHouse and Pizzeria Locale — and have noted before that the Chipotle model could be applied to a wide variety of foods," Arnold said in a statement.
Chipotle partnered with the founders of Colorado-based Frasca to launch Pizzeria Locale in 2013, applying the fast-casual, customizable concept to pizza. Pizzeria Locale currently operates seven locations across Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, and Ohio.
ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen is Chipotle's venture into the world of pan-Asian fare, again through the lens of fast-casual and build-it-yourself. The first restaurant launched in Washington, D.C., in 2011, and there are now 10 locations California, D.C., Illinois, and Maryland. ShopHouse was the center of some controversy in 2013 when Momofuku chef David Chang alluded to a "successful chain" stealing his intellectual property in an interview with Adweek. Chang has never confirmed which chain was the culprit, but a former posed similar allegations in a 2013 lawsuit. The case was dismissed on grounds of speculation.
Should Chipotle launch its own burger chain, Arnold's statement and the company's track record indicates it would focus on a customizable menu and premium ingredients. There's no word on how far along plans for the concept are or where it might launch. Eater has reached out for more information.