Chipotle fans tiring of their formerly beloved burrito bowls may have a new reason to return to the restaurant chain soon: The New York Times reports Chipotle announced yesterday “that it will add five new menu items—quesadillas, nachos, chocolate milkshakes, avocado tostadas and an updated salad—at its test kitchen in New York City, for eventual rollout nationwide.”
Currently Chipotle’s widespread operation features a carefully limited menu, so these items, which require new equipment, add considerably to Chipotle’s food-prep process. The NYT points out that a quesadilla—which has to be grilled, instead of simply formed like a burrito—could take up to two minutes to prepare, a lifetime in Chipotle time (a cheese quesadilla already appears on the Chipotle kids’ menu). Milkshake machines, presumably, will have to be added to all the stores, as well as larger grills.
So why would Chipotle complicate their operation in this manner? After all, says the NYT, “while most fast food companies introduce new products routinely to get people in the door, such changes are antithetical to the deliberately limited menu that built Chipotle into a $13 billion company.” But a bout of E. coli scares (“A series of E. coli outbreaks at Chipotle in 2015 hurt the company’s healthier-than-thou appeal, and sent the stock plummeting” says the NYT) caused Chipotle to suffer in competition with the many new restaurants now flooding the market. The chain is hoping the expanded menu will pull lost fans back in, and help boost some sagging sales.