After years of cultivating a strong reputation around natural ingredients and health-conscious initiatives, Chipotle has had a rough six months. First it was a small salmonella outbreak in August, which was soon followed up by a norovirus episode in September. Then an E. Coli outbreak sprang up across nine states throughout October and November, and suddenly Chipotle's image (and stock) was plummeting, with food safety concerns linked to the company in the worst way possible. Now the fast-casual giant is planing to shut down all of its 19,000-plus locations for a few hours on February 8 to review new standards with its employees.
Many people apparently haven't been deterred by the company's health issues — 1 million customers per day are still getting their fix. Chipotle fiends have always loved that guac and are clearly willing to take their chances. Still, from a business standpoint, the restaurant definitely needs a refresh, and this shutdown is supposed to serve as exactly that before marketing efforts begin trying to win the wider public's approval back. In the meetings, the plan is to thank employees, explain changes to service, and address any questions they might have so everyone moves forward on the same page.
Although the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is still monitoring Chipotle's E. Coli situation, CEO Steve Ells maintains his confidence that everything will officially be declared safe soon. "We know that Chipotle is as safe as it's ever been before," Ells said at a conference in Orlando recently.
As for you, the potential consumer of Mexican-inspired eats, it's your choice as to just how much of a Chipotle fiend you are. Whatever safety standards the company has decided on in this fallout are likely already in place, but no one would blame you for waiting for that CDC thumbs up before grabbing a burrito bowl. Patience is key.
Cover image: inazakira via Flickr