Chipotle Mexican Grill’s co-CEOs Steve Ells and Monty Moran announced the promotion of the company’s 200th Restaurateur, a position reserved for its most elite restaurant managers who are all hand-picked by the CEOs. Chipotle’s Restaurateurs are powerful leaders who know how to create positive restaurant experiences by building a culture of empowered top performers who are consistently achieving high standards.

“Our 200 Restaurateurs represent a growing group of top performers who have worked their way up from hourly crew positions. These top-performing leaders are poised for an incredible future with Chipotle,” Moran says. “These are the people who could be our future executives and officers, to whom we will entrust the leadership of our entire organization.”

Chipotle began its Restaurateur program five years ago, shortly after Moran joined the company. The Restaurateur program has had a significant impact on the company’s ability to identify outstanding restaurant managers with a knack for attracting the best teams and developing them into leaders that can create outstanding restaurant experiences. In addition to earning a regular salary and bonus, Restaurateurs also receive bonuses for each crewmember they develop into a general manager. Chipotle’s Restaurateurs come from diverse backgrounds, with most of them starting with the company as crewmembers. Today, they play an increasingly important role and, with some Restaurateurs overseeing several restaurants, this group now directly oversees or mentors nearly half of the company’s restaurants nationwide.

“The people culture we have created—a culture that recognizes and empowers top performers so they can have greater impact on our business—is one of the primary ways we are changing the way people think about and eat fast food,” Moran says. “Our Restaurateurs embody this culture more than any other group of employees as their success depends on finding the right people, and developing the teams of high-performers that are driving our restaurant operations.”

A highly coveted position among Chipotle restaurant managers, prospective Restaurateurs are all interviewed by Moran and/or Ells before they can be accepted into the program. Chipotle has consistently placed an important value on its people, emphasizing promotion from within and allowing opportunities for hourly employees to ascend into management positions and beyond, a rarity in the restaurant industry.

“Our success depends on attracting great people, and we’re committed to developing these people from crew positions into major leadership roles,” Moran says. “The managers who become Restaurateurs are the people who know and love our company and what we stand for. By leveraging their passion for Chipotle and promoting from within, we are not only having a positive impact on our restaurants today, but developing the future leaders who will help ensure our long-term growth and success.”

“Chipotle has always had a unique food culture that has us looking for better ingredients from more sustainable sources for all the food we serve,” Ells says. “Since Monty brought a similar emphasis to our people culture, we have significantly improved the quality of our operations and the restaurant experience we provide, and created a second key element to drive the success of Chipotle.”

Once a manager is accepted into the Restaurateur program, they may be asked to mentor an additional restaurant. When they have demonstrated the ability to build a special culture in that additional restaurant, they may take on a third and fourth restaurant. Because of their ability to run such exceptional restaurants and develop the people around them, Chipotle tapped people from within its Restaurateur program to open its first restaurants in Toronto and London, and will open its first restaurant in Paris later this year with one of its outstanding Restaurateurs.

Employee Management, Fast Casual, News, Restaurant Operations, Chipotle