Very interesting article. Even though Chipotle is like the primary food source of the entire NY finance industry, I hadn’t fully appreciated the differentiation of its operating model and that’s why it’s been able to dominate the category. For example, you usually get 40+ people lining up for lunch, but the line goes by relatively quickly and you can get out of there in <10 minutes…which points to the short cycle time you mentioned. They also recently instituted a "to-go" option where you can actually order online and pick up your burrito at the to-go window. I also didn't realize that the food is never frozen, which is probably why it tastes better. I wonder if Qdoba or fast casual restaurants for other cuisines operate a similar model.
The company hasn't really had to drive continuous innovation yet, but at some point it may have to, if people get tired of eating the same thing. In the end, it's all just rice, beans, beef, cheese and guac and it goes to the same place. It will be interesting to see how Chipotle manages that, and how it fits into the "few things thousands of ways" philosophy.
In terms of the supplier base, ironically they had two hiccups recently (the lack of pork awhile ago, and now with all the Boston College kids that got poisoned). With the pork situation, I wonder if people actually tasted difference between the naturally-fed pork and the other type of pork, and whether that points to the level of (or lack of) consumer value that all-natural ingredients create, per the company's business model.
I was among the few to have used a personal Blackberry Bold until a year or two ago (along with an iPhone for work). It had both a touch screen and a keyboard, so it was the best of both worlds, notwithstanding the trendy factor. Per your post, I did not care about enterprise-class security features, but found it much better to type on physical keys for e-mail, texts, etc. than on a touchscreen. However, when the app ecosystem exploded recently with highly practical apps such as Venmo, Instagram, and Udemy, I found that because Blackberry did not keep pace in terms of innovation, the lack of apps just no longer justified the physical keyboard. The company made an effort to port the Amazon Android app store into its OS, but by then, I had already switched.
I did not realize they were coming out with an Android-based phone in 2016; I hope it is well-designed and comes with a physical keyboard, and maybe it is worth checking out again.
When Krispy Kreme opened in Portland, there were people waiting in lines for hours, even several months after the initial opening. The fact that the donuts were fresh attracted people to drive up to 20-30 minutes to get in line, and also enabled it to out-compete chains such as Dunkin Donuts. Before reading this post, I didn’t think about the fact that Krispy Kreme had to engage in a different operating model to be able to deliver their signature fresh donuts (e.g., it requires more vertical integration, or on-site preparation for O&O stores). Does Dunkin Donuts operate under a similar model?
On the point of franchising, Krispy Kreme ran into a lot of trouble in the early 2000’s because they grew too fast. It sounds like the company was pretty careful, from an operations perspective, to train their franchisees well, suggesting it was a market over-saturation issue and not an operational issue.