Steve Ells - Promoting 'Food with Integrity'

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Case Details:

Case Code : LDEN070
Case Length : 21 Pages
Period : 2000-09
Pub Date : 2010
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.
Industry : Fast Foods
Countries : US

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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The Burrito Restaurent

CMG was the brainchild of Ells. Ells was born on September 12, 1965, in Indianapolis, US. At a very young age, he had developed an interest in cooking, and an admiration for fine cuisine...

Rapid Expansion

In 1998, McDonald's made an initial minority investment in the company. With this investment, CMG started expanding rapidly in the US. In 1998, CMG's expansion plans helped the company cater to an increasing number of Hispanics in the US, who were the largest minority group in the country at that time...

The Success Saga

Analysts attributed the success of CMG to some differentiating factors including the use of organic ingredients, interactive service, restaurant design, marketing strategy, and the culture at the company...


Although CMG managed to emerge as the leading fast casual restaurant chain in the US, it attracted criticism on several fronts. Some analysts expressed concerns about the food served at CMG, saying it had high calorie and sodium content...

The Road Ahead

Despite these criticisms, CMG continued its focus on providing food with organic ingredients and also on enhancing its customers' experience. Analysts attributed the success of CMG to Ells. According to Kenny Lao, Co-owner of Rickshaw Dumpling Bar, New York, "Ells has done an amazing job with operations, with standards...


Exhibit I: Menu at Chipotle Mexican Grill
Exhibit II: Some Foods Served at CMG
Exhibit III: Logo of CMG
Exhibit IV: Webpage of CMG Online Ordering
Exhibit V: Financial Summary of CMG (2004-08)
Exhibit VI: A Timeline of Food with Integrity at CMG
Exhibit VII: Some Ads of CMG
Exhibit VIII: Picture of CMG Restaurants
Exhibit IX: CMG's iPhone App


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