Chipotle: Why It Doesn’t Feel Like Fast Food

March 19, 2018 bxhistorycom 0 Comments

This is an informative article and first impression of a supply chain and logistics specialist, Lacenia Calloway, on the marketing, social psychology, and perceived integrity of the “fast food” chain restaurant, Chipotle, following the her viewing of the documentary, “Behind the Counter: Inside Chipotle

“I would eat Chipotle any day over McDonald’s!”

“Chipotle is way better than most fast food places!”

“Chipotle is new, but I would prefer it over Taco Bell, Chick-Fil-A, and other fast food places,” my friends suggested.


Chipotle is a Mexican Grill, fast food restaurant that serves gourmet burritos, tacos and more. I had polled ten different people, asking them whether they would eat at Chipotle or other fast food places in general. The fast food chain Chipotle won the poll with six votes to four. 

Twenty years ago, after graduating from the culinary institute of America, Steve Ells had a dream. Now, he is the CO-CEO/Founder of Chipotle Mexican Grill. After analyzing the documentary, “Behind the Counter: Inside Chipotle” I now understand how Chipotle became such a success in the restaurant business. Chipotle is where people would want to eat fast food rather than other truly “fast food” restaurants as is justified throughout the documentary. The argument is implicit. Steve Ells does not boast Chipotle as the best, he does suggest that its success and popularity is based on principles that makes his concept of “fast food” more appealing. He speaks about Chipotle as someone addressing an audience already established vs promoting a brand to establish an audience. His confidence and pride in his company is unmistakable, especially when opening up on the company’s humble background.    

Steve Ells opened his first Chipotle restaurant in Denver, Colorado in 1993. He did not start with a large sum to invest – 80k – so the designs of his restaurants were out of materials that were inexpensive such as plywood, barn metal, and pipes for the table bases and stools. From there he built another Chipotle to get himself on his feet financially with this new idea of what fast food restaurant should be. Interestingly, his second restaurant did better than his first. Within five years Ells had opened 16 Chipotle restaurants and gained the attention from the world’s biggest fast food chain, McDonald’s.

McDonald’s began investing in Chipotle in 1998, and over the next seven years McDonald’s put 350 million dollars into the company, jumpstarting Chipotle internationally. Restaurant industry consultants say that without McDonald’s help Chipotle would not have become the mainstream success it is today. However, in 2006 Chipotle and McDonald’s decided to depart because of their cultural differences. Since then, Chipotle has been its own, went public, and has more than 500 locations in the U.S.

Filmmakers of the documentary started off with the rhetoric strategy of logos. Starting with the history and facts about Chipotle. Then is launches into the statistics and numbers involved with Chipotle’s industrial success. Today, the Chipotle Mexican Grill Company is worth twelve billion dollars, and the stock has more than tripled in the past five years. The reason as to why Chipotle became successful is credited largely to its founder, Steve Ells, as the driving force. 

He claims that what differentiates Chipotle from the competition as a simply strategy: Chipotle Mexican Grill gives customers the opportunity to be selective. That is, to pick and choose what they want to go on their gourmet burritos or tacos. This gives Chipotle employees and customers a sense of positive interaction on a daily basis, and it is what keeps coming back to Chipotle for lunch and dinner. I understand the filmmakers reasoning and Steve Ells’ development of that by personal experience. I’ve been to lunch with a friend who went to Chipotle and interacted with the employees who prepared a delicious meal for her. From that, the kind of issue the Ells and filmmaker are addressing is an evaluation issue.

How is Chipotle better or worse than eating from other fast food places? Steve Ells’ way of carrying out Chipotle Mexican Grill was by breaking fast food rules. All Chipotle’s order fresh whole ingredients, they prepare everything in the restaurant, and they serve all their food in an interactive format. Chipotle takes their food making further than most fast food restaurants. Steve focuses on awareness on how animals are raised. He visited an industrial hog farm – were most pigs are raised – and saw that the pigs were kept indoors at all times, crammed into confined spaces. When he saw this, he was shocked and very upset.

He then decided that Chipotle would no longer use pigs or cows raised on industrial farms. Pork at his restaurant is sourced form pigs that are raised in open fields. Thus, Chipotle buys ethically raised meat more than any other restaurant company in the world. Their cilantro is organically grown, and the chain uses lettuce, peppers, and oregano from local farms around the country.

As I was watching the documentary I spotted a sign in the Chipotle restaurant that stated, “Why obsess over every ingredient? Because we want you to have it all: the best tasting, freshest ingredients, selected with care for animal welfare, the environment, the family farm, and your health.” That sign helps the filmmaker argue his point successfully; being that Chipotle is a better place to eat fast food at because it is healthier for you.

During the documentary founder Steve Ells and CO-CEO Monty Moran then make a surprise visit to a Chipotle, focusing on the companies’ people culture. They go on a mission to interview every employee there. Steve Ells and Monty Moran personally check in on hundreds of Chipotle’s around the country every year as a restaurant tour. The interviews at Chipotle with the employees were all positive, and they enjoyed working there.

The documentary then gives more facts and numbers to how Chipotle has expanded tremendously, with more than 1500 restaurants in the U.S. They have even gone international with five restaurants in Canada, seven in Europe, with more under construction. Chipotle’s philosophy is “Food with integrity.”  Unlike other fast food restaurants, Chipotle does not advertise. Have you ever seen Chipotle advertising a new menu item, like McDonald’s or KFC?

Instead Chipotle tells their story to the audience of people who eat Chipotle with a mini drama series that is online called “Farmed and Dangerous.” It is about a likable but misguided group of people whose job it is to spin the most shocking aspects of industrialized agriculture in a positive way. Chipotle has only one national TV ad. It is a two minute animated video about a farmer who decided to let his pigs and cows out of little pins to roam free. It aims that people stop the idea of industrial farming and go back to land farming.

Intimate marketing, The filmmaker uses pathos with the advertisement because it shows the pigs locked up in pins, but the farmer comes and sets them free. The music in the advertisement gives viewers a feel of freedom because of that. The ad also communications with people so that they not only understand the facts about the ingredients but also the emotional components as to why it is so important to buy sustainably raised foods. The ad goes hand-in-hand with Chipotle’s philosophy “Food with integrity”.

The ad helps the evaluation issue of how Chipotle is a better choice of fast food because they care about how the pork they use to serve you is being treated right and raised healthy so that you are eating healthier natural food. I believe the filmmaker argues the point that Chipotle is a better place to eat fast food, rather than eating at any other restaurant successfully. Statistics, facts, and persuasive appeals were all used in order to convince me to eat at Chipotle, when I have honestly never eaten there before. I now know that all their ingredients are grown, their meat is raised and handled right, and that is why after critically identifying and analyzing the rhetoric of the documentary “Inside Chipotle Mexican Grill”, I now will consider eating Chipotle.


Chipotle: Why It Doesn’t Feel Like Fast Food was last modified: March 19th, 2018 by bxhistorycom

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