News

Chipotle's Next Move: A New Burger Chain?

shutterstock.com

While Chipotle continues to grapple with the aftermath of its recent food safety issues, there are now indications the fast-casual burrito giant is preparing to get into the "better" burger business.

Here's what we know so far: In a statement to Bloomberg, Chipotle Spokesman Chris Arnold said the company is indeed considering plans to launch a new hamburger restaurant concept. As Arnold put it: “It’s a growth seed idea we are exploring. We have two non-Chipotle growth seeds open now -- ShopHouse and Pizzeria Locale -- and have noted before that the Chipotle model could be applied to a wide variety of foods."

As you may have guessed, the "Chipotle model" means a simple and customizable menu, quickly served via a conveyor belt-like counter service. And probably sneeze guards.

Earlier this month, Chipotle filed a trademark application for the phrase "Better Burger," according to a search of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website:

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 

As Arnold mentioned in the company's statement, Chipotle already backs two non-Chipotle restaurant concepts, so launching a third concept that would seemingly fit its signature model wouldn't be too surprising, especially considering the main Chipotle brand's association with food-borne illness outbreaks in recent months. As a result of those issues, the burrito chain's sales dropped by 26% last month and analysts predict the company will report a loss when it reports its first quarter results on April 26th.

Obviously, a Chipotle burger chain would face enormous competition from the likes of Shake Shack, Five Guys, Smashburger, In-N-Out and other players in often-dubbed "better burger" category. News of Chipotle's plans already hurt Shake Shack's stock on Wednesday, per the Bloombergreport

But just think of it this way: more cheeseburgers for you.

Thrillist has reached out to Chipotle for more information.

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and, as a person who enjoys burgers, is excited about this. Send news tips to news@thrillist.com and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.