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The New York Times reports on the factors that seem to helping McDonald’s-owned Chipotle succeed.

“Eating at Chipotle is about freedom of choice with a small set of choices,” the NYT reports. “Customers are offered a menu of just four items: tacos, burrito, fajita burrito and a '’burrito bol’ (a burrito made without a tortilla; the bowl is made of recycled newsprint). These are assembled by spooning the fillings on top of a clean cutting board and sliding them down. The room for error -- or style -- is zero. At the condiment bar, there is a selection of just three hot sauces. Nothing to dilute the purity of the tightly swaddled burrito.

“Nearly all of the food at Chipotle is prepared in the restaurants, except the beans and the pork, which is cured with salt, juniper berries, bay leaf and thyme and then braised and shredded at a central kitchen in Chicago.”

While the food at Chipotle is made to better than the average fast food meal, management says it has to maintain a kind of balancing act – trying to maintain the food’s integrity while not being preachy about it.
KC's View:
While we would love to have a Chipotle near us, we have to admit that we recently went to a quick-serve restaurant that actually was much better – California Tortilla, in Washington, DC. There are only about a dozen of them…but they are terrific, and superior to Chipotle.

We actually think that the notion of limited choice is the most interesting thing about Chipotle, and maybe something that more retailers ought to think about. It isn’t always about offering all the available choices…sometimes, it may make more sense to offer just the right choices, having already screened out the products that seem less appropriate for a store’s demographic.

It is sort of the Stew Leonard’s approach – only offer about 1,000 SKUs, but male sure they are the right 1,000 SKUs…and be a huge success doing so.