- Hollis Johnson
Chipotle is officially adding chorizo, a spicy chicken-and-pork sausage, to its menu.
The new item is rolling out Tuesday at restaurants nationwide, following a limited launch at some restaurants in Ohio, New York City, California, Colorado, and Washington, DC.
The chorizo is made with a blend of pork and white-meat chicken and is seasoned with paprika, toasted cumin, and chipotle peppers.
Restaurants cook the meat by searing it on a hot grill to give it a “perfect char,” the company says.
“The reaction to chorizo in the cities that have had it has been overwhelmingly positive, so we’re making it available in all of our restaurants across the country,” Chipotle CEO Steve Ells said in a statement. “Our chorizo is made with responsibly raised chicken and pork, and provides a delicious new option that fits perfectly with the rest of our menu.”
Chipotle executives hinted at adding chorizo earlier this year in a call with analysts. The company is hoping that the new menu addition will draw back its most loyal customers following an E. coli outbreak that sent the company’s sales plunging.
“Since we opened the first Chipotle 23 years ago, our menu has changed very little, and our focus has been on constantly improving the quality and taste of the food we serve,” Ells said at the time. “While we have never been opposed to changing our menu, we only do so when we think there’s an opportunity to add something that is really unique but that fits within our overall menu, and where we can find ingredients that meet our high standards.”
- Hollis Johnson
A test of chorizo in Kansas City last year was “very, very popular with our loyal customers,” Monty Moran, Chipotle co-CEO, said earlier this year.
Chipotle’s same-store sales tumbled 23.6% in the second quarter.
The decision to add menu items goes against one of Chipotle’s core business strategies.
The company has left its menu virtually unchanged since it was founded more than two decades ago. The only major change in the past 23 years has been the addition of tofu sofritas in 2014.
The chain prides itself on the simplicity of its menu and boasts that customers can create thousands of combinations from the ingredients offered.
“Chipotle restaurants serve only a few things: burritos, burrito bowls, tacos, and salads,” the company wrote in its 2014 annual report. “But because customers can choose from four different meats or tofu, two types of beans, and a variety of extras such as salsas, guacamole, cheese, and lettuce, there’s enough variety to extend our menu to provide countless choices.”
Ells said that the company is being mindful of keeping things simple with the addition of new menu items.
“When we think about adding something to Chipotle, we are very, very mindful of our overall efficiencies in the kitchen, in cooking, in throughout, and in ease of ordering for the customer,” Ells said.