After some months of speculation, Chipotle confirmed that it will indeed launch a burger chain this fall in Ohio, just outside of Columbus. It was thought that the company was diving into the burger world when it filed a trademark application, “Better Burger,” back in March. The new brand Tasty Made will focus on a limited menu of just burgers, fries and milkshakes.
"Early fast food burger restaurants generally had focused menus," said Chipotle CEO Steve Ellis, in a statement. "We think there's great strength in that original fast food model and wanted to create a restaurant built around that. Making only burgers, fries and shakes with really great ingredients, we think we can appeal to peoples’ timeless love of burgers, but in a way that is consistent with our long-term vision."
Chipotle’s menu variety has been one component that has received criticism and the Denver-based company has been absorbing some significant blows stemming from lagging sales and an E.coli outbreak that has decimated sales. According to CNBC, however, the chain returned to profitability in Q2 due to “‘modest’ improvements in foot traffic, fueled by the company's Chiptopia loyalty program.”
Eater indicated that the new foray into burgers has analysts thinking that it is, in part, a “distraction” from the E.Coli and overall food safety crisis. Undaunted, Chipotle will, again, focus on the integrity and quality of the ingredients. Chipotle has a stake in other non-Chipotle brands such as Shophouse Asian Kitchen and Locale Pizza. According to Eater, analysts believe the company should focus more on its core, flagship business.
The release said further that: “Tasty Made will use Responsibly Raised brand beef (from animals that are raised in more humane ways and without the use of antibiotics or added hormones), shakes made with real ingredients including milk, cream, sugar, eggs and other natural ingredients, and fresh-made buns that are free of preservatives, dough conditioners and other artificial ingredients.”
Competition in the category is fierce with the likes of Five Guys, Smash Burger, Shake Shack and others commanding consumer share and attention.