The First Ever Chipotle Location Was Plagued With Disaster

The First Ever Chipotle Location Was Plagued With Disaster

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The First Ever Chipotle Location Was Plagued With Disaster: The Chipotle we know and love today may appear to have its ducks mostly in a row aside from the scandals it will never be able to shake but this hasn’t always been the case.

In reality, the first Chipotle struggled from the start, with creator Steve Ells later admitting to NPR that he had no business training at all. He was “just making this up as [he] went along.”

The First Ever Chipotle Location Was Plagued With Disaster

Chipotle did not have a menu in its early days, according to Back of the Menu, and Ells only had two chefs to help him make burritos.

While creating a menu and hiring staff were arguably within Ells’ control, the first Chipotle encountered a slew of other issues that no one could have predicted. To be fair, what could you expect more from an 850-square-foot old ice cream business with a reasonable rent?

 

It’s a Miracle Chipotle Survived Its Early Years

Not only did the original Chipotle open in a former ice cream parlor, but it also shared water with the other businesses on the block.

“There was a hair salon next door,” Chipotle’s social media marketing chief Joe Stupp explained in a 2015 interview with Bloomberg. You couldn’t serve Coca-Cola while they were shampooing someone’s hair because the water wouldn’t come through.”

It's a miracle Chipotle survived its early years

Stupp later shared a story about one of Chipotle’s early managers stealing their safe and fleeing with it, never to be seen again.

Chipotle didn’t make much money in its early days, selling about a hundred or so burritos per day, but it was a tough start. Fortunately, Steve Ells and his team persevered, and by 1996, Chipotle had three locations.

Today, the chain has over 3,000 locations and is clearly doing well with its new burrito bowls. Talk about a tremendous makeover.

Here Are Some Of The Challenges They Faced

Health Code Violations

The first-ever Chipotle location was cited for several health code violations, including storing food at incorrect temperatures and failing to properly label food containers. These violations led to a temporary closure of the restaurant.

Slow Business

The restaurant struggled to attract customers in the early days. Steve Ells realized that he needed to do something different to stand out from the competition.

Flood

In 1995, a flood caused significant damage to the restaurant. Steve Ells and his team were forced to rebuild the entire location from scratch.

Debt

With flood damage and limited commerce, the first Chipotle establishment was deeply in debt. To keep the business solvent, Steve Ells was compelled to take out personal loans.

How Did Chipotle Overcome These Challenges?

It wasn’t easy, but Chipotle eventually overcame the challenges they faced at the first-ever location. Here are some of the things that they did to turn things around:

Improving Food Safety

After the health code violations, Chipotle took food safety seriously. They implemented new procedures and training to ensure that their food was safe for customers to eat.

Focus on Freshness

Steve Ells knew that customers would appreciate the quality of fresh ingredients. Chipotle began sourcing high-quality produce and meats and preparing them on-site.

Introducing the Burrito

Steve Ells realized that he needed to do something different to stand out from the competition. He introduced the now-famous Chipotle burrito, which became an instant hit with customers.

Expanding the Menu

Over time, Chipotle expanded its menu to include a variety of items, including tacos, bowls, and salads. This helped to attract a wider range of customers.

FAQs

What happened at the first Chipotle location?

The first Chipotle location was plagued with disaster, including a fire, flood, and theft.

Where was the first Chipotle location?

The first Chipotle location was in Denver, Colorado.

When did the first Chipotle location open?

The first Chipotle location opened in 1993.

What caused the fire at the first Chipotle location?

The cause of the fire at the first Chipotle location is unknown, but it caused extensive damage.

What caused the flood at the first Chipotle location?

The flood at the first Chipotle location was caused by a burst pipe.

How long did it take to reopen the first Chipotle location after the fire and flood?

It took several months to reopen the first Chipotle location after the fire and flood.

Did the disasters at the first Chipotle location affect the company’s success?

Despite the setbacks, Chipotle continued to grow and expand after the disasters at the first location.

How many Chipotle locations are there now?

As of 2021, there are over 2,800 Chipotle locations worldwide.

Has Chipotle faced any other disasters since the first location?

Chipotle has faced other challenges over the years, including food safety concerns and a data breach.

Has Chipotle taken steps to improve food safety?

Yes, Chipotle has implemented several changes to improve food safety, including new cooking procedures and food testing.

Is Chipotle still a successful company?

Despite the challenges, Chipotle remains a successful company with a strong following and continued growth.

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