Thanks for writing, Jackie – interesting post! As you know, I am very intrigued by the “healthy” (or in this case, healthier) fast-casual food business, and Chipotle has been a pioneer in the space. Recently, however, I have become skeptical of the company’s devotion to “high quality” ingredients. Chipotle made a big deal out of their announcement to switch to non-GMO foods, when there were only a couple of easy, inexpensive menu items they had to change (corn and oil). In fact, it still serves soda with GMO ingredients. (See this article for more: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/04/30/403249551/why-we-cant-take-chipotles-gmo-announcement-all-that-seriously). This seems to have been more of a marketing play than a commitment to high-quality food and consumer health. What is the responsibility of fast-casual food chains in transparency and food education? Is Chipotle’s stated mission at odds with its actual products?
And more recently, there has been an e.coli outbreak at a number of Chipotle locations. What measures does Chipotle take to ensure the quality and freshness of its ingredients? I am curious to see how/if Chipotle changes its operating model based on the illness outbreak.
Thanks for writing – interesting post! I am curious about the efficiencies of their in-store checkout process. In NYC (less so in Boston, from my experience), the line at Trader Joe’s winds all the way around the store regardless of the time of day, running through aisles and almost reaching the entrance. In fact, the line makes it difficult to do your food shopping, as you’re navigating around others’ carts, and makes the entire shopping experience unpleasant. Unlike Sherri, I am pretty impatient about waiting in line, so I only wait if I am committed to doing a big food shop. Is this checkout issue limited to NYC or does it apply to most stores? I wonder if Trader Joe’s has explored alternate checkout options to lessen the wait time – perhaps self-checkout, express lanes, or a purchase-in-advance combined with in-store pickup option. Or perhaps it is not worth it for them to invest more in their in-store shopping experience; maybe for most, the wait time is not a deterrent and is accepted as the “cost” of the discount pricing.
It strikes me that consistency and quality are two of the reasons that customers return again and again to their favorite food chains. I lived in Manhattan for a number years, and nearly every single day I purchased lunch at one of the many fast-casual restaurant chains: Pret a Manger, Hale & Hearty, Fresh & Co., etc. At Chopt and Just Salad, two popular salad chains, my experience of the food varied nearly every time and eventually, I stopped eating there. As Sweetgreen expands, how does management ensure the highest quality standards at every location? Aside from hiring enthusiastic and committed employees, what types of quality control checks could they implement?