Chipotle Holds Companywide Meeting
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. closed its 1,970 restaurants in the United States for 4 hours on Monday for a companywide meeting. The company’s 60,000 employees were required to attend. New food safety protocols were revealed and proper ways to communicate them to customers were discussed.
In August of last year over 200 people fell ill after eating at Chipotle restaurants in California. Last November it was reported that 60 Chipotle customers in the Boston area were sickened with E. coli. Chipotle officials blamed some of the outbreaks on cross contamination of foods, and others on employees who came to work while sick.
Chipotle restaurant locations will now be required to perform high frequency cleaning and sanitation during service and at the end of each day. There will also be more monthly inspections performed. The third-party audits will be tied to half of store manager bonuses, while the other half is based on customer service scores.
Also this week, Chipotle launched chipotle.com/foodsafety, a new webpage that offers details on the new food safety procedures for restaurants and guidelines for company suppliers. The website also contains plans for a $10 million grower’s support initiative to educate and train farmers on how to meet the company’s new food safety standards. The webpage highlights the company’s commitment to food with integrity.
The illness outbreaks made for a miserable fourth quarter for the Denver-based restaurant chain. The public company announced a 30 percent decline in same-store sales during December, followed by an even worse 36 percent decline in January. Despite its challenges Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. posted a 9.6% increase in year over year sales from 2014 to 2015. The company also opened 229 new stores in 2015. The restaurant chain plans to launch a new marketing campaign that will include significant use of freebies and discounts. The company plans to open between 220 and 235 new locations this year.