Taco Bell and Chipotle Want to Shave Time off Food Deliveries

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“When it comes to restaurant delivery, speed matters. And the burrito chains want to be faster.

Taco Bell –– which now offers delivery at roughly two-thirds of its U.S. restaurants through GrubHub Inc. with plans to continue expanding the service –– says its average delivery time is 34 minutes. The company acknowledges that’s not good enough for today’s demanding customer.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., meanwhile, says it’s averaging between 28 and 32 minutes for delivery, but it thinks it can shave four minutes or so as it expands pickup shelves across the nation. It’s also introducing prepaid delivery so drivers don’t have to pay in stores. It’s all part of a digital push that is a key part of the comeback plan laid out under Chief Executive Officer Brian Niccol in his first year on the job.”

“While restaurant delivery has long been part of the culture in major cities like New York and San Francisco, pizza was often the only option in many markets. That has started to change as on-demand delivery services like DoorDash, Postmates and Uber Eats have proliferated, joining GrubHub to expand delivery options.”

Read more here.

Chipotle skips sponsorship of college bowl games, offers free delivery instead

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In honor of college football season, Chipotle Mexican Grill is offering free delivery now through Jan. 7 on any Chipotle order worth $10 or more.

“Given the iconic nature of Chipotle’s Burrito Bowl, many consumers have pointed out that we should sponsor a bowl game,” Chipotle CMO Chris Brandt, said in a company press release. “We listened and decided to do something about it. But, rather than spending millions on a traditional game sponsorship, we decided to give that money back to our fans in the form of free delivery.”

With the help of expanded delivery partnerships and the ability to offer delivery directly within Chipotle’s mobile app and website, the company has seen steady growth in digital orders. Last quarter, digital sales grew 48 percent, with digital orders accounting for 11.2 percent of sales, according to the release.

Read more here.

Chipotle’s Health Scares Do Little For Competitors

CmM6g2YWEAAbmDC.jpgAfter their third straight quarter of declining sales, things continue to look bleak for the once-great Chipotle. The company posted sales this quarter down 24% from the previous year, and quarterly profits of $26 million (compared to $140 million immediately before the E. Coli outbreaks late last year).

One might think that such a plummet would be good news for competitors, but so far the opposite seems to be the case, with other Mexican fast food and fast-casual chains seeing a decline as well. Taco Bell’s same-store sales fell 1%, due in part to a decrease in foot traffic despite hefty advertising dollars spent selling items like the “Quesalupa.” Qdoba on the other hand tried to specifically target Chipotle customers, but claims such ads and promos ultimately hurt their margins.

To read more, click here.

New Lawsuit Against Chipotle Execs

With sales and stocks still reeling, a small group of Chipotle shareholders have now filed an additional lawsuit against the company’s executives, claiming that they “abused their control of the Company, and dealt themselves excessive compensation worth hundreds of millions of dollars through a corrupt stock incentive plan.”

The suit explicitly names Co-CEOs Steve Ells and Montgomery Moran, and CFO Jack Hartung, among others. It claims that these executives, using insider knowledge about the food safety protocols that would cause Chipotle’s well-reported downfall in 2015, dumped their stocks at an artificially inflated price and raked in millions before the food poisoning scandals began. Supposedly Ells made $78 million by selling 119,057 shares, Moran raked in $107 million, and Hurtung $28 million.

Chipotle has not admitted any wrong doing, and both this suit and one from January are still pending.

To read more, click here.

Free Burritos Can’t Help Chipotle Recover before 2018, But Maybe Burgers Can?

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Chipotle’s next move?

After their colossal – and well publicized – downfall, Chipotle has been doing everything possible to get back in customer’s good graces. That includes giving away about 9 million free burritos earlier this month, according to the chain (that’s $62 million worth, if anyone’s counting). They plan to send another 21 million free food coupons in the mail this month. But analysts from Wedbush Securities point out that, while sales may be returning slowly, the coupon strategy isn’t a sustainable one. Eventually, guests have to forget the reason they stopped coming in the first place.

The investment firm downgraded Chipotle’s shares and cut their target stock price from $450 to $400, saying that “current valuation reflects an overly optimistic outlook regarding Chipotle’s path to recovery.” They do not expect Chipotle to recover the sales lost from the salmonella, norovirus and E. Coli outbreaks until at least 2018.

One curveball to these predictions may be the news that Chipotle has applied for a trademark on the name “Better Burger,” indicating they have plans to recoup the losses in another way. It’s a strange move considering the number of existing burger chains, and there’s no word yet from Chipotle on how they plan to market themselves in this arena.

To read more, click here and here.

The Financial Toll of Chipotle’s Troubles

Now that the saga of Chipotle’s food safety issues, stock market tumbles, and attempts to win back loyalty are finally dying down (or so it seems), it’s reasonable to ask: what exactly was the cost of that widely publicized downfall? When a company sees a 25% drop in shares, and a 14% decrease in sales in one quarter, what does it actually cost the executives behind the brand?

In Chipotle’s case, it meant about a 50% decrease in profits for the two CEOs, Steve Ells and Monty Moran – or 15 million dollars each. While that is a steep hit, it’s worth keeping in mind that the two are among the highest paid executives in America, each reportedly earning more than the heads of McDonalds, Starbucks and Panera combined prior to 2015. So it stands to reason that Ells and Moran will weather the storm – even if the company’s struggles continue.

To read more, click here.

Fast Casual + Hawaii = Wisefish Poké

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In a true sign of the chain’s enduring influence even in it’s downfall, you can now find a “Chipotle of” nearly every cuisine, from salad to curry to falafel and back again. So the opening of fast casual “Chipotle of Hawaiian” Wisefish Poké yesterday should come as no surprise to anyone, although poké itself might be a dish non-Hawaiians are less familiar with.

Traditional poké is a raw fish salad extremely popular in Hawaii. It’s most commonly made with yellowfin tuna but also available with salmon, octopus or shellfish and dozens of seasoning combinations. At Wisefish you can construct your own bowl from bases of rice, zucchini noodles or mixed greens and toppings like crab salad, wasabi-avocado cream, and citrus-ponzu sauce. The fish is responsibly sourced from vendors like Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co, and aims to be un-selfconsciously fresh and healthy. All told, this seems like a great moment for a concept like Wisefish: fast casual bowls are as popular as ever, and mainland Americans have already fully embraced raw fish. Poké provides just enough of a twist to get the lunch crowd out of their usual routine.

Check out Wisefish Poké at 263 West 19th St.and read more here.