Chipotle this week closed the only location of its burger concept, Tasty Made. The restaurant, located in Lancaster, Ohio, had opened in October 2016.
Spokesman Chris Arnold told the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette that the economics in Lancaster—a manufacturing town about a half-hour’s drive Southeast of Columbus—were not a fit for the company.
At Tasty Made’s grand opening, director Dave Chrisman had told QSR that the burger concept was Chipotle’s answer to fast food, but with more high-quality, responsibly raised ingredients—particularly its beef.
“We’ve tried to have that approach: to change the world from a [quick-service] kind of standpoint,” he said of Chipotle and Tasty Made. “This is the first time we’re going up head-to-head against traditional fast food with the traditional, classic American meal, so [Tasty Made] really positions us to [innovate].”
At the grand opening, there were already plans to open a second location in nearby Pickerington, Ohio.
But Tasty Made struggled from the start. Customer reviews were mediocre, and the brand switched to conventionally raised beef just a few months after it opened so it could lower prices. The restaurant’s opening was also marred by accusations from Boston-based Tasty Burger that the concept had infringed upon its trademark with a similar name and logo.
In September, Chipotle partnered with celebrity chef Richard Blais in an attempt to jumpstart Tasty Made’s menu. The updated menu, which included a condiment bar for the french fries, had debuted in December.
Many industry analysts wondered why Chipotle entered the crowded burger category at a time when it was struggling to fight back from the E. coli and norovirus outbreaks that struck the company in late 2015. Chipotle also owned the Southeast Asian fast casual ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen, but around the time Tasty Made opened, Chipotle founder Steve Ells announced that it would no longer invest in ShopHouse’s growth.
ShopHouse shuttered all of its locations last spring.
Chipotle is also an investor in Pizzeria Locale, a Boulder, Colorado–based fast-casual pizza chain that has grown to seven locations in three markets.
Former Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol was recently named Chipotle’s new chief executive as the company continues to seek ways to reverse its fortunes. Ells stepped down from the position last year but remains chairman.
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