How Chipotle's Investment in Digital is Paying Off

Chipotle's online ordering |   Chipotle

Chipotle's online ordering | Chipotle

One of the latest strategies by Chipotle to reclaim its top spot in the fast casual sector is to implement more digital technologies. The restaurant's goal is to make the ordering process even more convenient for guests.

One of the ways the chain is focusing on digital is it has added another line dedicated to only online orders. Starbucks, the king of mobile orders, also has a group of team members dedicated to solely mobile orders at each store.

Chipotle is also testing having online only pick-up drive-thru lanes to make the pick-up for online orderers even quicker.

"We are definitely under a digital transformation at Chipotle," said Brian Niccol, Chipotle's CEO to "CNN Business."

Evidently, the investment in digital tech has paid off. Digital sales grew by 66 percent in the last three months of 2018. The company's stock has spiked by 35 percent over the last year and in the last quarter of 2018, restaurant sales grew by 6 percent.

"We're definitely just getting started," said Niccol to "CNN." "There's still so much opportunity in front of us, and there's still a lot of work to be done."

Read more about Chipotle’s push to promote digital ordering at “CNN Business” now.

It's been a long road of recovery for the fresh Mex fast casual after its food safety crisis back in 2015, but then the chain hired the former Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol and continues to make power moves as part of its comeback play.

In 2019, the chain started the year out with a bang by rolling out lifestyle bowls. These new menu items are keto, Whole30, and paleo-friendly. Even though more restaurants are offering meals that are diet friendly, it's still difficult for those eating keto, paleo or Whole30 to find quick food options on the go. Chipotle is one of the first chain's to cater to these popular diets, making the restaurant one of the only options for those who are tired of the constant meal prep.

On a recent episode of The Barron Report, Host Paul Barron explains why he thinks the chain's recent introduction of its Lifestyle Bowls was a slamdunk. Watch the video below to learn more about Chipotle's latest campaign to appeal to health-conscious eaters.

10 Food & Beverage Leaders to Watch in 2019

It’s that time of the year again, where everyone reflects on the year before and plans their goals for the next year.

A leader in the food & beverage industry has unique challenges, but a smart leader never stops learning and soaking up insights.

With that in mind, Zenreach recently released a list of thought leaders in food & beverage to follow to stay informed about the latest trends in the foodservice sector.

This list includes our own Paul Barron, Foodable's CEO, executive producer, and editor-in-chief, along with other entrepreneurs in the business.

The Food Critic and Podcast Host Soleil Ho also made Zenreach's list. This 31-year old is making a difference with her podcast Racist Sandwich, which covers social justice issues in the industry. As the Zenreach blog writes Ho exposes industry problems like as "cultural appropriation, male dominance in the kitchen and culinary authenticity." Ho also is the new food critic for the "San Francisco Chronicle."

Although Gary Vaynerchuk doesn't only cover topics pertinent to the restaurant industry, he is a marketing and branding mastermind who lands on Zenreach's list. He helped grow his family's wine company from a $3 million business to a $60 million business in just a few years by incorporating video content with the channel Wine Library TV. This entrepreneur and speaker has interviewed many of the industry's best too, including Jon Taffer and Danny Meyer.

Zenreach also lists restauranteur David Chang and restauranteur and restaurant industry consultant Aaron Allen. Learn more about these thought leaders at the Zenreach blog now.

We also have a few others to add-on to this list.

The CEO: Clare Reichenbach

Clare Reichenbach |   The James Beard Foundation

Clare Reichenbach | The James Beard Foundation

At the beginning of 2018, the coveted James Beard Foundation named Clare Reichenbach its CEO. Even though she has no culinary experience, she has a long career leading organizations. She was the founder of CJJR Consulting, a business network and was the former EVP Strategy and Business Development for BBC Worldwide North America. Her goal at the JBF is to extend "awareness of the foundation and bringing it greater global recognition through programs dealing with education diversity, women’s issues and childhood nutrition," writes "The New York Times."

The Builder: Sam Fox

This restaurateur launched Fox Restaurant Concepts, a group that now has almost 50 restaurants across the U.S., including Zinburger, Wildflower, and Tucson's Blanco. Fox has been a James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurateur 11 times.

The Rule Breaker: Erik Oberholtzer

Foodable has been following Oberholtzer's career for years now. As the co-founder of the fast casual Tender Greens, he has taken a hands-on approach to make the chain a success. Oberholtzer, along with his partners even dug ditches for the chain's first store's plumbing. The chain is backed by Danny Meyer, who even said in 2015 "that I wish I'd thought of it myself." There are now 29 Tender Greens stores in California, New York, and Massachusetts.

The Trailblazer: Ethan Brown

Brown is the CEO of the plant-based company Beyond Meat that has emerged as a leader in this space. Brown spent his childhood on a farm where he developed the mindset to change of the way the world eats meat. Beyond Meat went public at the end of 2019 and the company's products are now available in 11,000 grocery stores across the country.

We recently sat down with Brown to talk about his company and the booming plant-based market. Listen to the recent episode of The Barron Report below.

The Comeback Artist: Brian Niccol

This industry veteran was hired by the struggling chain Chipotle in early 2018 to help the former fast casual darling to recover. Niccol was formerly the CEO and marketing mastermind of the brand Taco Bell. In 2018, Chipotle's store sales gradually climbed and the company's shares spiked 50 percent. Niccol has directed the chain to upgrade its mobile app and in-store technology. He has also made it his mission to "build a culture of accountability," as he said in July. In 2019, Chipotle rolled out new menu items to cater to those on restrictive diets with the Keto Bowl and Whole30 bowl. With Niccol holding the reins, 2019 is expected to be the year Chipotle makes its official comeback.

Chipotle Hires Another Former Taco Bell Executive

Chipotle Hires Another Former Taco Bell Executive

It seems like Chipotle will not stop until the fast-casual brand has it’s A-team, in place.

Another member has been added into the mix and he is crossing over from no other than Taco Bell— just like the brand’s newest CEO, Brian Niccol.

The new hire’s name is Chris Brandt and he will be Chipotle’s new CMO, starting April 2.

Brandt’s last role with the Mexican-themed fast food chain technically ended in 2016 and most recently he was the executive VP and chief brand officer at Bloomin’ Brands— parent company to chains, like Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba’s.

Read More

Menu Innovation is Expected from Chipotle as Former Taco Bell CEO Takes Over

Menu Innovation is Expected from Chipotle as Former Taco Bell CEO Takes Over

It looks like nachos, quesadillas, salads and new grain options may possibly be new Chipotle menu items, according to Founder and Executive Chairman Steve Ells.

“These are things customers are asking for,” said Ells on the company’s latest earnings call, as reported by Bloomberg.

Just last week, the company began to test a new non-dessert offering, spokesman Chris Arnold told Bloomberg via email. This happened a few days after news broke Brian Niccol, the former chief executive officer of Yum! Brands’ Taco Bell Division, is set to lead Chipotle starting March 5.

Read More

Chipotle steals the Taco Bell CEO To Rescue Fast Casual Brand

Chipotle steals the Taco Bell CEO To Rescue Fast Casual Brand

The search is over and faith in Chipotle’s future seems to be on its way to being restored.

On Wednesday morning, Chipotle shares experienced a 14 percent hike, according to “Bloomberg.”

This is thanks to Chipotle’s Tuesday announcement that founder Steve Ells will be officially stepping down by March 5 of this year as the chief executive officer to pass along the post to Brian Niccol, former CEO to Yum! Brands’ Taco Bell Division.

Steve Ells will transition from a Chipotle Chairman role to an Executive Chairman for the brand, as he welcomes Brian Niccol as a new member of Chipotle’s Board of Directors.

Read More