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13 Things You Didn’t Know about Chipotle Mexican Grill


For many, Chipotle is what fast food should be: tasty, ethically responsible, not too expensive, and reasonably healthy. While you might think that you know everything there is to know about this mega-chain, there’s actually a lot out there that you’re probably not aware of.

13 Things You Didn’t Know About Chipotle Mexican Grill (Slideshow)

Chipotle was founded by Steve Ells, a Culinary Institute of America graduate, in 1993. He’d been inspired by the popular tacos and burritos he discovered in San Francisco’s Mission District while working there for chef Jeremiah Tower, and after securing an $85,000 loan from his mother, he opened the first Chipotle in a former ice cream shop near the University of Denver campus.

Ells estimated that he’d need to sell about 100 burritos per day to be profitable, but after a month he was selling more than 1,000. Knowing he had a good thing on his hands and fueled by an investment from his father and a Small Business Administration loan, he jettisoned his original idea of opening a fine-dining restaurant and focused on expansion, opening a second store in 1995 and a third shortly thereafter.

Without an investment from an unlikely source, however, the chain never would have grown to its current massive scale. In 1998, McDonald’s made its first investment in the company, and by 2001 it was a majority shareholder. There were 16 locations in 1998, and by 2005 there were more than 500. McDonald’s invested about $360 million into Chipotle in total, and when it divested itself in 2006 (as part of a larger effort to divest itself from all “non-core business restaurants” including Boston Market), its investment had grown to $1.5 billion.

Today, Chipotle’s stock is worth around $550 per share, and in 2012 the company pulled in a net income of $278 million. It’s one of the fastest-growing companies of its type in the world, and everything from their menu, to the restaurant design, and the commitment to source its ingredients ethically has inspired a new generation of fast-casual dining. To learn some fascinating facts about the chain that will go down in history as one of the most revolutionary, read on.


Chipotle owns Shophouse, a D.C.-based chain of “Southeast Asian Kitchens.”

There’s a Free Burrito Coin

Nobody is really sure if they’re still being issued or what you need to do in order to get one, but once upon a time, Chipotle would reward loyal customers with a real coin that could be redeemed for a free burrito.

This article was originally published April 16, 2014.


4 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Chipotle

Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG) is known for its natural ingredients, but did you know that it used to be owned by McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) ? Learn more about that and other surprising facts below.

1. A Chipotle burrito contains more calories than a Big Mac.
A steak burrito with white rice, sour cream, cheese, and guacamole contains more than 1,000 calories and 1,590 milligrams of sodium. By comparison, a McDonald's Big Mac contains 550 calories and 970 milligrams of sodium.

But sodium and caloric content are the only two categories in which a Big Mac could conceivably be labeled healthier than a Chipotle burrito. The burrito contains twice as much protein and more vitamins and minerals than a Big Mac. However, just because it is natural does not mean it cannot make you fat.

2. Chipotle is more obsessive than Starbucks when it comes to customer experience.
Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) is known for paying close attention to its in-store environment the world's largest coffeehouse chain is known to many as their all-important "third place:" There is home, work, and Starbucks. The stores' inviting interiors and cozy environment are at least as responsible as the coffee for driving foot traffic.

Chipotle takes a similar attitude toward customer experience. It carefully compiles a new 500-song playlist to beam out to its locations each month to ensure that regular customers do not have to listen to the same songs over and over. The music is carefully crafted to match the stores' interiors, which typically include concrete floors and lots of windows.

In addition, the playlist is set up so that a faster song plays during the lunch rush hour and a slower song plays during the afternoon slowdown. Clearly, Chipotle is obsessed with its customers' experience.

3. McDonald's used to own a majority stake in Chipotle.
Other than serving high-calorie food quickly, there really aren't any similarities between McDonald's and Chipotle. Yet the world's second-largest fast-food chain (Subway is the largest) bought a controlling interest in Chipotle in 2001. Chipotle used the investment to rapidly expand its store base -- all of which are company-owned.

McDonald's divested its interest in late 2006, the same year that Chipotle had its initial public offering. Luckily, Chipotle maintained its independence during the entire ownership period and its unique style remains.

4. Investors like Chipotle much more this year than they did last year.
Most high-growth stocks trade at insane multiples, and Chipotle is no exception. The stock trades at 53 times trailing earnings, or $525 per share at the end of 2012, it traded at 34 times trailing earnings, or $300 per share. The higher multiple on a higher trailing-earnings figure reflects renewed investor optimism about the company's prospects.

It could also be a reflection of the dearth of successful companies in the quick-service industry at the moment. Even McDonald's has encountered same-store-sales slowdowns due to low consumer spending in many parts of the world. In stark contrast, Chipotle's same-store sales rose 6.2% in the third quarter and the company raised its full-year guidance.

Of course, it is extraordinarily difficult to handicap a high-growth company at $300 per share, it was possible to make a compelling case that Chipotle was undervalued. At $525 per share, investors are paying full price (and maybe a little more) for whatever magic Chipotle can pull off in the coming years.


6 Things You Didn't Know About Chipotle Mexican Grill

For many, Chipotle is what fast food should be: tasty, ethically responsible, not too expensive, and reasonably healthy. While you might think that you know everything there is to know about this mega-chain, there's actually a lot out there that you're probably not aware of.

Chipotle was founded by Steve Ells, a Culinary Institute of America graduate, in 1993. He'd been inspired by the popular tacos and burritos he discovered in San Francisco's Mission District while working there for chef Jeremiah Tower, and after securing an $85,000 loan from his mother, he opened the first Chipotle in a former ice cream shop near the University of Denver campus.

Ells estimated that he'd need to sell about 100 burritos per day to be profitable, but after a month he was selling more than 1,000. Knowing he had a good thing on his hands and fueled by an investment from his father and a Small Business Administration loan, he jettisoned his original idea of opening a fine-dining restaurant and focused on expansion, opening a second store in 1995 and a third shortly thereafter.

Without an investment from an unlikely source, however, the chain never would have grown to its current massive scale. In 1998, McDonald's made its first investment in the company, and by 2001 it was a majority shareholder. There were 16 locations in 1998, and by 2005 there were more than 500. McDonald's invested about $360 million into Chipotle in total, and when it divested itself in 2006 (as part of a larger effort to divest itself from all "non-core business restaurants" including Boston Market), its investment had grown to $1.5 billion.

Today, Chipotle's stock is worth around $550 per share, and in 2012 the company pulled in a net income of $278 million. It's one of the fastest-growing companies of its type in the world, and everything from their menu, to the restaurant design, and the commitment to source its ingredients ethically has inspired a new generation of fast-casual dining. To learn some fascinating facts about the chain that will go down in history as one of the most revolutionary, read on.


Chipotle was sued by a disabled man

The interior design might be impressing design critics, but you can bet they all have full use of their legs. Because for those people who have to order while sitting in a chair, the perspective might be just a little different. At least it was for San Diego man Maurizio Antoninetti, who sued Chipotle for violating the rights of the disabled.

Mr Antoninetti was unhappy that when he ordered his food from his wheelchair, the wall in front of the counter was too high for him to see over and he was unable to choose ingredients for his order or see his food being made. Bizarrely, although Chipotle spent thousands of dollars fighting the accusations in court, and in the process forced Mr. Antoninetti to tally up $550,000 in legal fees, the restaurant nevertheless went ahead and quietly retrofitted the offending restaurants with lower walls. And that was years before the verdict even came back.

No one likes to admit when they're wrong, but fighting an unnecessary lawsuit for five years to avoid it has to be a record of some sort.


Simply combine all of the ingredients in a blender or mini food processor.

And process until smooth. Enjoy!


Chipotle Mexican Grill Copycat Recipe


First you are going to want and get your chicken marinating. I love how easy the marinade and dressing are for this recipe.

For both, all you do is combine ingredients in a blender and that’s it! Done!

I like to cook my chicken and veggies out on the grill to give them the extra flavor and really bring the flavors to par to make this an authentic Chipotle copycat recipe. But if you don’t have access to a BBQ, it still will taste great if you cook them on a pan or roast in the oven.

The black beans and rice are just as simple to throw together.

Side note, we used fresh lettuce from our spring garden for dinner tonight! How fun is that?

Now start layering up your salad! Another great thing about this copycat recipe is it works great for a family full of picky eaters! Everyone can make their own bowl the way they like it!

For this copycat recipe I did splurge a little and went out and bought some lime tortilla chips from the grocery store. Making chips at home just sounded like a task I didn’t feel like taking on at the time.

I hope you guys liked this recipe! If you have any questions let me know down in the comments bellow!


5 Things Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. Management Wants You to Know

Image by Flickr user "punctuated" under Creative Commons license.

Shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) didn't enjoy a propitious first half of the year, breaking into a double-digit decline from February through June. Yet leading up to the company's second-quarter earnings report on July 21, and for a few weeks afterward, the CMG ticker recovered sharply:

The rebound is a nice example of what a strong second-quarter report can do for a company whose shares have languished in the year's first few months. In this case, Chipotle's revenue expansion of 14.1%, along with an affirmation of a brisk store-opening schedule, seemed to allay investor fears that the company's growth story was beginning to fade.

Today we review five key points company management made during its second-quarter earnings call with analysts last month. These themes provide some insight into investors' recent comfort with Chipotle and also inform the outlook for the rest of the year.

1. Price increases aren't the only growth weapon in our arsenal
"Our sales increased 14.1% in the quarter to $1.2 billion driven by new restaurant openings and a sales comp of 4.3%. . [T]he comp was driven mainly by our price increase from last year, which contributed 4% to the comp."
-- John Hartung, CFO

Chipotle's comparable-store sales have slowed considerably recently, a result of tough comparisons to former growth. For example, this time last year, the company's Q2 comparable sales expanded a sizzling 17.3% versus the prior year's quarter. Against a comparison like this, the current quarter's 4.3% increase doesn't appear so weak.

As explained in the quote, the comparable-sales gain was made up almost entirely of price increases. These were instituted last year to counter the rising price of beef, and with Q2 2015, the increases are now "lapped," so Chipotle won't get any further comparable-sales lift going forward.

Some room for strategic price lifting still exists for the remainder of the year, however. During the call, management confirmed that its much publicized carnitas (pork) shortage would be fixed by year-end, as it's engaged a British supplier, Karro Food Group, to supply its pork shortfall.

Hartung stated that Chipotle hasn't raised steak and barbacoa prices in the roughly 40% of restaurants that are still awaiting carnitas replenishment. This is to avoid punishing customers who trade up to steak because of the non-availability of pork. An opportunity to normalize beef pricing will arise as Chipotle gradually reintroduces carnitas to its under-served markets.

Even with a more constrained pricing program for the rest of the year, Chipotle can rely on its aggressive store opening schedule, as Hartug mentioned, for top-line growth. The company confirmed that it's on target to hit or exceed the high end of its 2015 goal of opening between 190 and 205 restaurants by year end.

2. We're maintaining focus on one of our biggest competitive advantages: our ingredients
"Simply because something is deemed safe doesn't mean that it's necessary, or that it makes our food better in any way."
--Steve Ells, co-CEO

In his prepared remarks, Ells said Chipotle had completed its transition to using only non-GMO ingredients in all its restaurants during Q2 2015. In his simple yet forceful statement above, Ells explicitly counters the argument that GMOs haven't been proved to pose long-term health risks to consumers, by pointing out that even if that's so, the company finds no persuasive reason to use such ingredients.

Ells also revealed that Chipotle is researching and developing a fresh tortilla that can be manufactured at commercial scale, in conjunction with Washington State University's Bread Lab. The tortilla will be made without any additives, preservatives, or artificial ingredients, and from just four ingredients: flour, water, vegetable oil, and salt.

These actions serve to remind Chipotle's health-conscious, not to mention socially conscious, customers, that they can trust the chain to keep improving ingredients, as they purchase food that aligns with their values. Management believes that cultivation of its brand perception, despite economic risks posed by events such as the self-imposed carnitas shortage, is a future growth driver.

3. Throughput remains core to our success
"During the quarter, we held a national throughput competition to emphasize the importance of the four pillars [of throughput] in our restaurants."
-- Montgomery Moran, co-CEO

Throughput, the rate of sales in a given time period, is one of Chipotle's management team's most cherished metrics. That's because so many of the company's locations have long lines at key dayparts such as lunch and dinner. The faster CMG can serve its customers, the higher the sales, as fewer potential purchasers will turn away if they have a sense that lines are moving quickly. Bucking recent trends, though, Moran noted that Chipotle didn't see an increase in throughput during the quarter.

Because management focuses so intensely on throughput, shareholders should be sensitive to any signs of a slowdown. After all, by channeling customers at ever faster rates through its assembly-line service model, Chipotle has been able to avoid the significant marketing budgets that some of its peers undertake as a way to improve sales. Moran signaled that he would like to see improvement again, even if on an incremental basis, in Q3, so investors should make a mental note to check in on this next quarter.

4. We're increasing benefits and raising wages to retain the best talent
"We expect the incremental costs of these [labor] investments to be about $2.5 million on a quarterly basis, beginning in the third quarter."
-- Hartung

During the quarter, Chipotle initiated a one-time compensation adjustment for kitchen managers and service managers. It also increased paid vacation and added paid sick days and tuition benefits for hourly workers. The impact of these adjustments will be $2.5 million per quarter in additional costs, beginning in the third quarter.

These changes come on top of hourly wage inflation of 4.2% during the quarter, which Hartung called the "fastest [rate] we have seen in many years." Chipotle doesn't mind the compensation expansion, however, as management is convinced that paying well and selecting the best job candidates possible will drive value for the company in terms of customer experience and throughput.

As if to emphasize the point, Chipotle made news this week with an announcement that it will attempt to hire 4,000 workers, a number equal to roughly 7% of its work force, in a single day on Sept. 9. This "National Career Day" might be seen as glossy PR, but Chipotle's logic on investing in capable employees always seems to be borne out in its financial results.

5. We won't jump on the loyalty-card bandwagon anytime soon
"With regard to loyalty, that's a tricky subject. We've studied this in-depth, and we don't believe the general supposition that loyalty will make less frequent customers more frequent."
-- Mark Crumpacker, chief creative and development officer

Answering an analyst's question on whether the company's recent success in engaging customers through its mobile app will be followed by a loyalty component, Crumpacker gave a thoughtful response. First, he made it clear that a loyalty program won't necessarily increase revenue through giving occasional customers more incentive to visit.

Crumpacker went on to state that companies implement loyalty programs in part to collect useful analytical data on customer spending patterns. Chipotle believes the same or similar data can be garnered through targeted offerings, such as gift cards or special promotions, through its mobile app, and perhaps from third-party applications.

These comments reveal the extent to which Chipotle is protective of its margins and cautious about a tweaking a business model that doesn't necessarily need fixing. To paraphrase Ells' sentiments regarding ingredients, just because Chipotle has the ability to offer an incentive program and mine data doesn't mean that it's necessary or even beneficial to the company's gross margin to do so.


Most marinades are effective from anywhere from 2 hours to overnight. We recommend marinating with this chipotle chicken marinade for at least 6 hours to develop that restaurant quality flavor.

A great time saver for weeknight meals is to put the chicken in the marinade in the morning before work, then it is ready and waiting to be grilled when you get home.

SAFE TEMPERATURE FOR COOKING CHICKEN:

When cooking (or grilling) chicken you must cook your chicken to a safe minimum cooking temperature of 165 degrees °F (per foodsafety.gov) to avoid any issues with possible contamination. While the chicken rests it actually holds this temperature which allows it to kill any germs that may be remaining, so remember to rest the chicken for 5 minutes before serving.


10 Things You Didn't Know About The Cheesecake Factory

This chain is famous for a lot more than just cheesecake.

The chain restaurant offers nearly 40 cheesecake varieties.

The Cheesecake Factory seems to hold a special place in the hearts of lots of people. It's not a fast food restaurant, it's not a chain bar and grill, it doesn't shill to kids. Instead, it exists to extoll the virtues of the glorious cheesecake in all its calorie-laden greatness. But we bet that there are a whole lot of things about this chain that you didn't know.

As opposed to some other chain restaurants (we're looking at you, Olive Garden), the Cheesecake Factory got its start as a mom and pop shop based around a flagship product: cheesecake. The chain traces its roots back to Evelyn Overton, a Detroit homemaker with a killer cheesecake recipe who in the 1940s supplied cakes to local restaurants but dreamed of opening her own cheesecake shop. She put those dreams on hold to raise a family, but in 1972, once her children were fully grown, she and her husband Oscar packed up and moved to Los Angeles to finally open that shop, which supplied more than 20 types of cheesecakes to LA restaurants.

In 1978, their son David had the idea to open a restaurant focused on showcasing his mother's cakes, and later that year the first Cheesecake Factory opened in Beverly Hills. The first menu was only one page long and featured primarily salads and sandwiches, along with 10 varieties of cheesecake. It was an instant hit, and a second location opened in Marina del Rey in 1983. A Redondo Beach location opened in 1987 the first location outside the Los Angeles area opened in Washington, D.C., in 1992 the company went public in 1993 and today there are nearly 200 Cheesecake Factories around the world.

Cheesecake Factory is still well-known for its cheesecakes, but the menu has expanded to incorporate dozens upon dozens of other dishes, infamous for their hearty portion sizes. Nearly 40 different varieties of cheesecakes are available, ranging from the traditional (fresh strawberry) to the outrageous (Toasted Marshmallow S'mores Galore, Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake, White Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut). David Overton is still on board as chairman, president, and CEO, overseeing the ninth-largest restaurant company in the United States based on market capitalization. So whether you're a loyal cheesecake devotee or just an occasional visitor, read on for 10 Cheesecake Factory facts.

The Original Cheesecake Recipe Was Found in a Newspaper


Photo Credit: Flickr/ Helder Mira

Evelyn Overton didn't develop the original cheesecake recipe herself she actually found it in a newspaper.


It Started in a Detroit Basement Kitchen


Photo Credit: Flickr/ Varin Tsai

After Overton put her dreams of opening her shop on hold, she moved her baking equipment down to the basement of her Detroit house and ran her business from there.


‘Dragon Sauce’ is Chipotle’s new, TikTok-famous secret menu item

Chipotle’s “dragon sauce” is the latest secret menu item taking over TikTok.

The order hack, which some users have called “life-changing,” has joined a long-standing tradition on the app. In the past, users have revealed their favorite custom Starbucks drinks, their strangest menu discoveries at McDonald’s and their little-known Chick-fil-A drink orders.

Now, thanks to a new Chipotle menu item, “dragon sauce” has earned TikTok’s attention. The “secret” item can be made by ordering the chain’s quesadillas, which are only available for takeout. The quesadillas come with three sauce options — including a choice of sour cream, guacamole and several salsas.

To make the dragon sauce recipe, TikTokers are simply ordering the quesadilla with sour cream and hot salsa. Then, they’re mixing the two together and digging in with their quesadillas.

One of the countless TikTokers to order the sauce was user @domeniciniguez. In a now-viral clip, he showed how to make the simple-but-beloved secret item.

“How did I not know about this?” he captioned the clip.

The menu hack is unbelievably simple, but it’s clearly struck a chord with Chipotle fans. Videos using the #DragonSauce hashtag have already drawn more than 13.5 million views, and TikTokers have given the concept plenty of praise.

“Oh my god. I didn’t know I needed this until now,” one user commented on @domeniciniguez’s video.

Dragon sauce has even gotten the stamp of approval from Chipotle itself. The chain — which is known for its TikTok-savviness — posted a video co-signing the idea.

Of course, not everyone agrees. Some TikTokers have commented that Chipotle’s dragon sauce isn’t really so special — considering it’s just a mix of two simple, already-existent sauces.

“How are y’all just figuring this out? This is so simple,” one user commented.

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If you liked this story, check out this article on how to make homemade McDonald’s McGriddles.