Competitors See Opportunity in Chipotle’s Troubles

The Chipotle food-safety saga has been impossible to ignore for the last few months, as everyone from hungry college students to Wall Street traders are forced to reckon with the chain’s downfall. For other fast-casual and fast food restaurants, however, the news is an opportunity to snatch some new guests. As we wrote earlier, Sweetgreen has already earned the moniker “the new Chipotle” to some, and they’ll undoubtedly benefit at least somewhat from the Mexican chain’s decrease in sales. Others are hoping that they can improve their image by highlighting food safety practices – and surreptitiously reminding everyone that they haven’t caused any norovirus outbreaks recently.

Canadian chain Freshii is twisting the knife by offering half-priced Mexican food while Chipotles everywhere are closed for an all-hands meeting and regroup. They claim that this is to “help consumers through these dark hours,” and that “the least [they] could do was look after their customers while Chipotle paused to recalibrate.”

White Castle, while not a direct competitor of Chipotle, has decided now would be a good time to launch a website devoted entirely to advertising their food safety practices. The website is unambiguously named http://www.WhiteCastleClean.com, and it showcases their commitment to “promoting food safety, cleanliness and transparency.”

Chipotle meanwhile is struggling to recover while their stocks are in free-fall. CEO Steve Ells has made repeated statements about their new food safety practices, and promised that they will release any information about the source of the outbreaks last year. This Super Bowl, they are offering $50 currency card and a limited-edition gift from the makers of Tabasco sauce to anyone who uses their catering service.

To read more, click here and here.

 

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