Later operating hours, cheap tacos, more bacon. CEO Brian Niccol is taking what worked at Taco Bell and plugging it into Chipotle's playbook.
— Erika Adams
At Chipotle, the path to $10 billion dollars will be paved with $2 tacos, nachos, and bacon.
The company recently announced that early tests with new menu items, including build-your-own nachos and bacon as a new meat option, have gone well enough to start rolling out on a larger scale. The nachos will be on every Chipotle menu in Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul starting in October. The bacon, originally only available at the company’s test kitchen in New York City, will be expanding to eight restaurants in Orange County, California in September before Chipotle can determine whether to launch a full-market test with the meat.
There’ll be new value deals, too. Select restaurants in Miami and Dallas will begin offering $2 tacos with the purchase of any drink after 8pm to boost the image of Chipotle as a late-night destination. Those restaurants will be extending operating hours to 11pm (typically, Chipotle stores close at 10pm). In Indianapolis and Philadelphia, some restaurants will be testing a combo chips and drink add-on for $3 until September 30.
Chipotle has taken to labeling its method of incremental market tests with new initiatives as stage-gate processes, “which allows the company to test, learn, listen to customer feedback, and iterate extensively before moving ahead with a national launch,” the release stated. To be clear, it’s a market test like any other chain’s market test, but Chipotle is likely more motivated to be public about the small steps it is taking within its turnaround plan since those goals are so publicly set.
“We’re making progress on operations, we’re making progress on digital, and we’re making progress on really understanding our customer base better,” Niccol said on the company’s latest earnings call. “We get the right message with the right food at the right place with the right value, and I think we’ll continue to see improvement in our performance.”