Chipotle’s been struggling since 2015, when a multi-state outbreak of E. coli threatened both customer safety and the chain’s bottom line. The restaurant has been fighting valiantly to get back to a place where patrons would feel comfortable — good, even — paying two dollars extra for guac (confidential to Chipotle: Have you tried not charging for guac? Also, less lime pls) but recent events have soured (get it???) everyone on the restaurant’s offerings. First, norovirus broke out in a Virginia store, then rats descended from the ceiling of store in Texas (dropped, really, they weren’t wearing wires or anything; this isn’t Vegas). Finally, shareholders filed a class-action against the chain for misleading claims about the restaurant’s health and safety. And it’s just gotten worse.
When news of the chain’s trouble with the norovirus broke last week, the number of people affected had been reported as relatively low. About a dozen people had registered complaints on IWasPoisoned.com (a consumer advocacy site) before Chipotle closed down the store in question and labeled it a rare and isolated incident. But it appears that the number of people who were made ill after visiting the Sterling, Virginia store was much higher than previously thought. Per health officials, 135 people have now been identified as having been affected by the outbreak. According to a new update from the affected county’s health director, several of those stricken with the virus were chipotle employees.
From Loudon Now:
“Based on symptoms reported and these preliminary laboratory results, the cause of the outbreak is believed to be norovirus, though the specific source of the norovirus has not yet been identified,” said Loudoun County Health Director David Goodfriend in an update Monday. “The Health Department is not aware of any customers becoming ill since the reopening of the facility last Wednesday.”
Despite reassurances from the chain’s top administrators, Chipotle’s stock dropped after last week’s incidents. Now all Chipotle can do is wait and hope that customers will return.