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Chipotle Just Announced a Huge Change

Published On 12/12/2016 Published On 12/12/2016
Laura Murray/Thrillist

Despite rolling out several free food deals, fresh marketing campaigns, and numerous food safety measures as part of its comeback campaign this year, Chipotle is still struggling to lure customers back to its restaurants after last year's devastating food-borne illness crisis. In yet another move to regain its place in America's appetite, the company is making big changes at the very top.

On Monday, Chipotle announced that co-CEO Monty Moran is stepping down, making company founder Steve Ells the sole CEO and chairman of the burrito chain's board of directors. As explained in a report by The Wall Street Journal, the shakeup comes after the company faced criticism from investors over its longtime co-CEO model because of the high costs of paying two chief executives. Moran, who was paid $13.3 million as co-CEO last year, is also resigning from the board, effective immediately, and will retire from Chipotle in 2017, according to the company.

Ells, who founded Chipotle in 1993, recently revealed another major challenge the company is facing as it struggles to recover from the crisis: crappy customer service, due to its focus on improving food safety. In a statement, Ells said that as chairman and CEO, he will focus "relentlessly" on improving the guest experience, along with overseeing the company's strategic projects, operations, and other initiatives. Basically, having one CEO will help to streamline the company's efforts and overall message to both employees and customers.

Ells' first order of business: announcing a new and reimagined company mission, one that strongly focuses on the company's commitment to serving fresh ingredients. Chipotle's new mission is to "Ensure that better food, prepared from whole, unprocessed ingredients is accessible to everyone," while its old mission was to "Change the way people think about and eat fast food."

"When I started Chipotle, I knew very little about the way food was raised," Ells said in a press release. "But over the years, I’ve become a champion for ingredients that are raised with respect for people, animals, and the environment. I will also continue to advocate for food made simply, without processed ingredients, which is the kind of food I believe should be available to everyone."

In addition to the co-CEO shakeup and revised company mission, Ells told the WSJ the company is also working on changing up its board of directors, which has also attracted criticism from investors due to its members' long tenures. “It is time for board refreshment," he told the paper.

All said, the big changes appear to be the company's latest steps to ultimately simplify how it operates across the board, which it hopes will result in both better service, satisfied employees, and good food made with good ingredients. Oh, and probably a rebound to making money again, too. What it could mean for you, though, is better and faster burritos in the near future, which is basically a win for everyone. 

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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and could actually go for a giant steak burrito right about now. Mmm. Send news tips to news@thrillist.com and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.

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