But while Chris and Terry might have changed Marco’s operations slightly for functional purposes, the look and menu give people in the Caribbean the experience that customers in the U.S. have grown accustomed to.
“When they opened, we sent over a number of people,” Butorac says. “We spent a lot of time and effort to make sure we delivered a consistent product.”
Since the initial store in the Bahamas opened, people from Puerto Rico and Jamaica have approached Chris and Terry, wanting to open their own Marco’s stores.
While Butorac hasn’t signed deals with any of them yet, he knows to at least consider their offers.
“If you were to talk to me 18 months ago and said, ‘International,’ I’d say, ‘Sorry,’” he says. “It was not part of my thought process, and it now needs to be part of my thought process.”
Chipotle: London Calling
Chipotle’s first store opened in Denver in 1993, and the chain has grown to more than 900 stores in the U.S. and one in Toronto since then. The fast-casual concept found booming success in the U.S., meeting its sales and expansion goals even in the throes of a recession. Yet in many ways, the chain seems better suited for Europe.
“There’s a great appreciation there for local and sustainably raised ingredients,” says Chris Arnold, spokesman for Chipotle, which prides itself on serving what it calls “food with integrity.” “Culturally, that aligns with what we do more than most options here in the U.S. do.”
So when Chipotle opens its first London store as early as April, it will follow the same model it does in the U.S. In fact, almost everything about the brand—from its grassroots marketing efforts to its streamlined menu to its assembly line operations—will remain unchanged in the London store.
“We really don’t see why it needs to be any different going into Europe,” Arnold says. “It will all be the same. Part of the beauty of Chipotle is its simplicity.”
Arnold says London was chosen as the site for Chipotle’s first European store because it’s similar to the locations where the brand first thrived.
“When we started in the U.S., we’ve primarily been in large cities,” he says. “Almost all of our restaurants are in major metropolitan areas or suburbs of major metropolitan areas.”
From the start, Chipotle’s London store will focus on fostering management potential in its employees. Some management and operations personnel from within the company will travel to London to help with the opening and teach new staff Chipotle’s recipes, cooking methods, and operations. After an initial period, at least one person from Chipotle U.S. will stay in a leadership position at the London store, but the brand will start looking for employees who could take on management roles at that store and others.
“More than 80 percent of all of our restaurant management positions are filled internally from internal promotions—we like to do it that way,” Arnold says. “We’ll be doing the same thing in Europe, developing people and moving them on to manage other restaurants as we continue to build.”
Chipotle has no definite plans for future restaurants in London and beyond.
“We have no other spaces in lease in Europe right now and no construction under schedule,” Arnold says. “It’s never been our intention just to stamp a bunch of restaurants around the community or around the world.”
But that doesn’t mean the company isn’t interested in future opportunities abroad. It has already started to consider opening more locations in London, Paris, and Munich.
“Our vision as a company is to change the way people think about and eat fast food,” Arnold says. “That’s something that the traditional fast-food guys aren’t doing. We think there’s certainly room for us to build that niche in other countries as well as the U.S., and there’s a business opportunity for us to continue to grow.”