- Chipotle has had a rough two years marked by E. coli scares and lackluster menu additions.
- The chain’s efforts to turn things around have yet to really work.
- Chipotle still has a ways to go before it turns things around — if it can.
It’s been a bumpy ride for Chipotle.
The chain’s reputation has never truly recovered from the 2015 E. coli outbreak that left 50 people sick in 14 states. Chipotle’s tarnished image has led to slumping sales growth, and third-quarter earnings missed targets. Most recently, Chipotle’s stock fell nearly 6% after “Supergirl” star Jeremy Jordan blamed the burrito chain for an illness. And, according to IWasPoisoned.com, the rate of self-reported foodborne illnesses are at least nine times higher for Chipotle than all other restaurant chains.
To Chipotle’s credit, the restaurant chain has tried to reignite the spark with loyalty programs, queso, and even free lunches. But the rewards program was limited and lackluster, the queso grainy, and the free food likely in vain.
We decided to visit Chipotle to see if the chain has made any improvements in its attempt to turn things around — or if it’s stuck in a mire of its own making.
And so, I saw many of the same issues that have plagued the chain for several years.
While the food is relatively decent, the menu has lost its charm, and the company has misstepped several times in menu additions. The queso has not saved the chain, and the short-lived buñeulos were forsaken.
And perhaps the largest problem looming over the chain is the hardest to combat: a bruised stature. The public’s collective memory may be short, but every few months another food safety scare bubbles to the surface, leaving the chain constantly on guard. And that’s something that no company wants for its image.