Chipotle Mexican Grill today opened its first European restaurant in London located at 114-116 Charing Cross Road. The company, which operates nearly 1,000 restaurants in the United States, is also looking for additional sites in London and exploring other European markets including Paris and select cities in Germany.
“We think the prospects are very good for Chipotle in London and around Europe,” says Steve Ells, founder, chairman, and co-chief executive officer of Chipotle. “The food culture in Europe is based on local, sustainable, and artisanal foods, which are all core values of Chipotle, and we have been instrumental in bringing this kind of thinking to fast food in the U.S. We call it ‘Food with Integrity’ and it is one of the ways we are changing the way people think about and eat fast food.”
In the U.S. Chipotle is the only national restaurant chain that is committed to serving food made with ingredients from sustainable sources, including naturally raised meat (from animals that are humanely raised, never given antibiotics or added hormones, and fed a pure vegetarian diet), local and organic produce, and milk from cows that are not treated with synthetic hormones.
Chipotle brings the same food philosophy to its first restaurant in London, where it is using premium quality ingredients from local sources, including chicken that is grown to a higher welfare specification, pork that comes from pigs reared on farms that offer large acre paddocks where the pigs can roam freely and display natural behaviours, and beef from Farm Assured British Farms where the cattle are reared in humane and compassionate conditions. Chipotle also uses premium quality vegetables and herbs from local farms when seasonally available.
Chipotle in London features a decidedly focused menu of burritos, tacos, burrito bowls (a burrito without the tortilla), and salads. With a service format that allows customers to decide exactly what goes into their individual order, there are more than 60,000 possible combinations.
Customers choose their vehicle (burrito, bowl, tacos, or salad) and fill it with house-made ingredients, including coriander-lime rice, pinto beans, or vegetarian black beans, grilled chicken or steak that is marinated in Chipotle’s signature adobo rub, or slowly braised pork carnitas or beef barbacoa. Then add a choice of four salsas, fresh guacamole that is made daily with Reynolds avocados that are all hand-tested for ripeness and quality, cheese from a cooperative of Scottish farms, sour cream, and romaine lettuce. The format allows Chipotle to meet virtually any set of dietary restrictions or preferences.
“Our near-term efforts in London will focus on establishing the Chipotle brand, developing a high-performing team to create a special dining experience and help us with future expansion, and building a supply chain of like-minded vendors who support our goal of serving great tasting food made with ingredients from more sustainable sources,” Ells says. “This will give us the right foundation as we explore additional opportunities in London and other European markets.”