Chipotle Launches New Mentorship Program for Start-Ups

10 years ago, Chipotle emerged as the darling of the fast casual segment. Other concepts in the segment were all striving to be the Chipotle of their category. But ever since Chipotle's food safety crisis back in 2015, the chain has been on a long road to recovery.

However, with the hire of former Taco Bell executive Brian Niccol and new menu additions, the restaurant's stock has gradually climbed in the last year. Analyst Andy Barish recently predicted that investing in the chain is a smart move in 2019.

The chain has announced its latest move to change the future of food, it will be partnering with the non-profit Uncharted to launch the Chipotle Aluminaries Project, a program that will help food start-ups grow.

"Since our founding, Chipotle has been committed to cultivating a better world, and we believe the best way to lead the future of food is to inspire others to come along with us on the journey and be a force for good in our industry," said Brian Niccol, Chipotle CEO in a statement.

Eight food companies have been selected based on innovation.

Some of the start-ups include-

American Ostrich Farms: an ostrich meat producer. This meat makes much less of an ecological impact.

Grubtubs Inc.: a company that makes animal feed made from food waste.

Sophie's Kitchen Plant-Based Seafood: a plant-based seafood producer.

AgVoice: a mobile voice-interaction service designed for food and agriculture professionals that helps them tracks animal and plant production.

The eight companies selected to participate will attend a 5-day boot camp where they will get insights and advice from industry leaders like some Chipotle executives and the entrepreneur Kimbal Musk.

The participants will also be meeting with their mentors one-on-one to get investor training and guidance on their business.

"At Chipotle, we feel we have a responsibility and opportunity to forge a path to a more sustainable food future," said Caitlin Leibert, Chipotle's Director of Sustainability.

Read more about the new program at "Forbes" now.

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 move to not only appeal to health-conscious eaters but to reclaim its top spot in the fast casual market.

How Sweetgreen is Becoming the Next Fast Casual Unicorn

On this episode of the Barron Report Live, host Paul Barron discusses which wing-focused restaurant brand is taking on pizza for the next Super Bowl, the fire sale of Diageo’s liquor brands, and how Sweetgreen becoming the next food unicorn in the fast casual industry.

Wings Take on Pizza in Super Bowl Challenge
At :35 - Paul discusses the growth of the popular takeout brand, Wingstop. The chicken-wing fast casual chain has seen a 15.5 percent increase in annual growth last quarter, with systemwide same-store sales also growing by 6.3 percent, and its net income jumping 33.8 percent.

The increase in store count to 1,215 global locations, is pretty major move compared to growth in the fast casual segment is slowing down overall. Additionally, the company’s strategy and lack of direct competition are leading them to take over the takeout industry over pizza.

Diageo to Sell Off 19 of Its Brands
At 5:00 - Paul discusses Diageo’s, the world’s largest spirits producer, decision to sell 19 of its lower-end spirits brands to Sazerac for $550 million. The strategy appears to allow Diageo to focus on its premium labels.

This decision will allow the company to take on the trending craft spirits market. Paul has seen firsthand when filming the Foodable show “Across the Bar,” just how often mixologists have opted for a more unique craft cocktail brand.

Sweetgreen to Become the Next Fast Casual Unicorn?
At 6:31 - Paul discusses the biggest news of the week — how salad chain Sweetgreen is quickly becoming the next fast casual market leader.

Foodable identified early on that this concept would be a breakout brand in the fast casual market. With Sweetgreen’s HQ move to Los Angeles in 2016 to join other tech-focused restaurants that are raising money in private rounds at valuations of $1 billion or more, they are here to stay. “CNBC” recently reported that Sweetgreen is nearing a $200 million investment with Fidelity Investments.

The key to Sweetgreen’s success like other fast casual stars is to have a unique,  Xactor. For the salad chain, it’s all about lifestyle. Showcased in previous events like the Sweetlife festival, Sweetgreen is able to connect with their consumers celebrating passion and purpose.

Another brand that has been able to achieve this in the past is Chipotle, controlling the burrito business with ambiance, food, and environment compared to Baja Fresh.

In recent news revolving Chipotle, hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management has sold another large chunk of its Chipotle Mexican Grill investment. The affiliated entities have reportedly sold a total of 118,307 shares of the fast casual chain for a total of $55.8 million.

Watch the live podcast above to learn Paul’s predictions for the fast casual market and what he believes to be next for these two stars, what other factors are playing into Wingstop’s impressive acceleration and its edge in takeout, and to find out which brands are being sold to Sazerac.

 
 

Is Fast Casual Dying? Emerging Brands Tell a Different Story

Despite major losses on the Nasdaq for national fast casual brands like Chipotle, Panera Bread, and Noodles & Company, fast casual emerging brands like Freshii, Corelife Eatery, and Sweetgreen are growing.

Based on Top 150 Emerging Brands Data

Based on Top 150 Emerging Brands Data

Foodable defines an emerging brand as a concept that finds itself at the beginning stages of development, whether it’s just launching or it’s working through the minutiae of scaling and expansion.

According to Foodable Labs, restaurant traffic overall has gone down 6.8 percent year over year, based on social media mentions of the top 1,000 chains, while emerging fast casual brands have seen an 8.2 percent increase in restaurant traffic.

Nasdaq claims that fast casual is a dying trend, but we believe this is just a shift in the trend.
Emerging brands can’t stay an emerging brand forever, eventually, they begin to scale and gain notoriety across the nation, if done right. National brands like Chipotle are simply seeing natural market forces.

They face greater competition as they continue to expand, as well as more challenges. Whereas an emerging brand is just beginning to build brand recognition. Emerging brands are more nimble when they’re smaller and face less scrutiny.

To learn more about what that exactly means for restaurants, be sure to watch the video above and download the Top 150 Emerging Brands Report.

Chipotle, Applebee's, and Other Chains Turn to Delivery to Survive

Chipotle, Applebee's, and Other Chains Turn to Delivery to Survive

Delivery is slowly becoming a customer expectation. With that in mind, quick-serve and fast casual chains are jumping on the delivery bandwagon.

Earlier this week, we reported that Panera rolled out national delivery and made the conscious decision to not partner with a third-party to keep more of the profits made from delivery. 

"We do make money with delivery, but a lot of the restaurants that are using third parties, they don't make that much more," said Blaine Hurst, Panera CEO to "Business Insider." "What it is, is they don't believe they have a choice."

Although the third-party services have made it easier for brands to offer delivery, they cut into profits and the brand loses some of the control of these orders. Ultimately, it's up to the third-party's delivery driver to get the food and bring it to the guest in the estimated time frame. So the service aspect is dependent on the delivery provider, not the restaurant. 

UberEats, for example, takes a 30 percent cut, plus the platform also collects a $4.99+ delivery fee from the customer. 

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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.

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