Last Tuesday, July 6, was a buy one-get one free burrito day at Chipotle to support national vaccination efforts. Customers who went in after 3 p.m. and bought an entree and then whispered the secret password—“friends BOGO”—to the cashier could get a second entree for free. We at The Takeout are always in favor of free food and we would have told you about it, except Chipotle gave such little advance notice of the promotion that it was a surprise even to the people who were supposed to be making the burritos.
Can a last-minute restaurant promotion centering around the distribution of free food with a secret password go off smoothly, without long lines, anger, sore feet, or tears? Ha! If you think that, clearly you have never spent time behind the counter of a fast food restaurant.
Insider talked to Chipotle workers in five different states (Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Georgia, and California). They all had tales of horror. The Michigan employee claimed they didn’t know about the promotion until midway through their shift, which was five hours long, without a break; Chipotle hadn’t bothered to schedule extra workers to handle the promotion and that employee’s store was, in fact, understaffed. Consequently, lines were two hours long. The four other workers reported similar situations. “Everyone [working] on the shift is fighting and angry,” said a store manager in California.
Chipotle hadn’t bothered to ship in extra food, either. Long before closing time, locations had run out of essential ingredients, such as lettuce, sour cream, brown rice, steak, vegetables, corn, and guacamole. In order to keep the lines moving, workers skimped on seasonings. “I’ve never seen food served at a lower standard at my store,” said a manager in the Midwest.
And customers noticed. Twitter was full of complaints about the long lines, missing ingredients, and poor treatment of the staff. “[T]hanks for the bogo,” one user tweeted at Chipotle, “but when i came in i saw 2 employees crying. and the whole store was pure chaos. seems like maybe this was really unfair to them, i love chipotle but i’m gonna give it up just to give those poor workers a break. do better.”
Doing due diligence, Insider contacted Chipotle’s corporate office for the higher-ups’ version of events. “It was a very successful day and we were proud to participate in the National Month of Action to encourage vaccinations,” chief corporate affairs and food safety officer Laurie Schalow told Insider. Clearly, she hadn’t visited a Chipotle that day.