It’s official: Chipotle is getting into the better-burger business.
An AP report confirmed Thursday that Chipotle will open Tasty Made later this year in Lancaster, Ohio. The news comes a few months after rumors swirled that Chipotle was looking to get into the burger business and had trademarked the name “Better Burger.”
Earlier this month, the online food news source Eater reported that the Denver-based Mexican fast casual had trademarked “TastyMade” after dropping the “Better Burger” trademark.
This isn’t the first time Chipotle has explored fast-casual opportunities beyond its signature Mexican concept. The company has previously invested in the Asian fast casual ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen, as well as pizza fast casual Pizzeria Locale.
But while those two brands are primarily located in urban locations (ShopHouse in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., and Pizzeria Locale in Kansas City, Cincinnati, and Boulder, Colorado), Tasty Made will open its first shop in a small town more than 30 miles southeast of Columbus, Ohio.
Chipotle representatives did not respond to requests for comment.
The news about Tasty Made comes during a tumultuous year for Chipotle, which suffered several food-safety incidences at the end of 2015 that devastated the fast casual’s sales. Same-store sales were down 23.6 percent in 2016’s second quarter after being down 29.7 in the first quarter.
Chipotle made two big moves this summer in an attempt to bring customers back. The first was to roll out a new chorizo product in select locations (with intentions of going nationwide later this year), and the second was a loyalty program called Chiptopia Summer Rewards, which rewarded customers for visit frequency.
By Sam Oches