Chipotle didn’t have a great 2016. And 2017 isn’t shaping up to be much better, with the chain’s woes forcing out its CEO this morning. What’s happening to the once-mighty chain, and can it come back?
Here’s a timeline of their tumultuous year:
- May 26th, 2017: Chipotle reveals that malware may have breached the majority of its store, potentially exposing thousands of customers to risk.
- July 21st, 2017: A video showing rats falling from a Chipotle ceiling goes viral.
- July 25th, 2017: A fresh outbreak of norovirus in Virginia sickens 100 people. Some argue it’s a form of corporate sabotage, which is unlikely, but it’s bad PR which the company can ill afford.
- September 2017: Chipotle launches its long-rumored queso, one of the extremely rare moments where the company adds something to its famously unfussy menu. It’s enough of a disaster that the CEO has to send a “haters gonna hate”-type memo to team members (though we didn’t mind it).
- October 24th, 2017: Chipotle reveals its third quarter numbers, and promptly gets punished by Wall Street.
- November 29th, 2017: Steve Ells, who’s been with the company since the first store opened in 1993, steps down as CEO, although he’ll remain with the company as executive chairman, focused on Chipotle’s sustainability mission.
While it hasn’t all been disaster for Chipotle in 2017, there’s no denying the chain, once the fastest-growing fast casual chain in America, is facing some hard times. That said, recovery isn’t impossible; right around the time Chipotle first opened, Jack In The Box faced an enormous food poisoning scare it recovered from. And the problems the chain has faced have less to do with how it specifically handles food — as the American food system struggles with systemic issues affecting everyone from giant grocery stores to roadside farm stands. Still, in order to win back hearts, it’s clear Chipotle needs a far better 2018.
(via Grub Street)