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When Chipotle (pronounced chi-POAT-lay) opened its first store in 1993, the idea was simple: demonstrate that food served fast didn't have to be a "fast-food" experience. We use high-quality raw ingredients, classic cooking methods and a distinctive interior design, and have friendly people to take care of each customer—features that are more frequently found in the world of fine dining. When we opened, there wasn't an industry category to describe what we were doing. Some 20 years and more than 1,500 restaurants later, we compete in a category of dining now called "fast-casual," the fastest growing segment of the restaurant industry, where customers expect food quality that's more in line with full-service restaurants, coupled with the speed and convenience of fast food.

We try to do a few things really well. We elevate basic raw ingredients into food that's richer and more sophisticated through our recipes and cooking techniques. Similarly, our restaurant design transforms simple materials in distinctive ways, giving our restaurants a style that's more architectural in nature.

Our focus has always been on using the kinds of higher-quality ingredients and cooking techniques used in high-end restaurants to make great food accessible at reasonable prices. But our vision has evolved. While using a variety of fresh ingredients remains the foundation of our menu, we believe that "fresh is not enough, anymore." Now we want to know where all of our ingredients come from, so that we can be sure they are as flavorful as possible while understanding the environmental and societal impact of our business. We call this idea Food With Integrity, and it guides how we run our business.

  • Using higher-quality ingredients. We use a variety of ingredients that we purchase from carefully selected suppliers. We concentrate on where we obtain each ingredient, and this has become a cornerstone of our continuous effort to improve our food. Some of the ingredients we use include naturally raised pork, beef and chicken, as well as organically grown and sustainably grown produce, and we continue to investigate using even more naturally raised, organically grown and sustainably grown ingredients, in light of pricing considerations.

  • A few things, thousands of ways. We only serve a few things: burritos, burrito bowls (a burrito without the tortilla), tacos and salads. We plan to keep a simple menu, but we'll always consider sensible additions. For example, we introduced the burrito bowl in 2003—just when the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets exploded—and estimate that we sold about seven million of them in that year. In 2005, we also rolled out a salad.

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© 2010 Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.