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Chipotle is going seatless...

They are going to be starting "really, really small scrappy restaurants", no seating. I find it interesting how the architect of the current restaurants seems to feel his current design is a welcoming space to "engage" their clients. I have yet to see a Chipotle that I find to be welcoming or engaging in any manner. I find most of them to be rather cold spaces with all that stainless steel. Either way it doesn't matter much to me I"m not a Chipotle fan, 100% of my experience with them is to satisfy my son who likes them.


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  1. I've not eaten at one (yet) but from what I read they're HIGHLY successful and a real step up from the McDs of the world.

    1. Some New Chipotles will just be take-out.
      Seems like a good business model for expansion- they can have a corner of an established cafeteria/ food court or cater to heavy foot traffic areas
      Many people already get their Chinese from counter-service-plus-3-tables places. Who "eats in" there?

      6 Replies
      1. re: Kris in Beijing

        McDonald's has lots of take-out only counters, especially in malls.

        It works.

        1. re: sunshine842

          25 years ago Mc Donalds opened a drive thru only in my home town, it was an old Jack -N- Box location, they called it a Mini-Mac. No interior at all, you couldn't walk in if you wanted to, just drive thru.

          1. re: jrvedivici

            Our drive thru only McD just closed and they built a "regular one" about 500 feet away in a previously unoccupied lot.
            Local gossip says that a Sonic wanted the lot, so McD poached it.

            Kris now in DC/NoVA

            1. re: sunshine842

              Recently, I noticed a lot of McDonald's take-out only windows on various Chinese pedestrian shopping streets.

              Bad news for my taro pie addiction.


              1. re: BuildingMyBento

                There's one near work that's just a takeout window. The kitchen is upstairs, and there's a clever conveyer belt-like thing that delivers the filled bags to the cashier.

          2. Not surprising to me.... But i'm in manhattan, and more and more new restaurants, coffee shops, and ice cream places have minimal if any seating.
            Which makes business sense yet also sends me the message of "give us your $$ and get the hell out of here".....
            But i'd rather see another chipotle than another bank or duane reade at this point. There's a good sized chipotle location a block from me, but i've only ever had chipotle about five times.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Ttrockwood

              must be because you actually tasted the stuff.. .

            2. if their food was "engaging," i'd probably find some way to rationalize that their space was engaging.
              since neither one appeals to me, i'm outta there.

              38 Replies
              1. re: westsidegal

                Damning without trying? Hmm. I've not eaten there yet but it seems to get high praise not only for flavor but for healthiness.

                1. re: c oliver

                  People's opinion of Chipotle seems to be at either extreme. Consumers either love them or don't get them at all. Hate is too strong a word. I'm with the naysayers here. I couldn't care less how Chipotle builds out their locations. I tried them once and have absolutely no desire to ever eat there again. I agree that I find the space highly unwelcoming and the food to be completely forgettable (and I have nothing against fast food in general - there are some chains I like a lot). However, since I am not their target consumer, my opinion about their space is irrelevant.

                  Don't assume, though, that someone who dislikes them hasn't tried them. Apparently many people have given in to the hype once and decided that once was enough.

                  1. re: rockycat

                    I don't hate chipotle but I find it utterly mediocre . Quality ingredients? Sure. That ensures I don't leave feeling bloated or gross . But flavor wise on a par with subway

                  2. re: c oliver

                    c oliver, since you live in California where we have access to lots of very good Mexican food, you will likely not be impressed with Chipotle. Their food is not *bad*, but it is pretty bland.

                    I have eaten Chipotle many times, in different states. When I was traveling a lot for my job Chipotle was one of the usual choices when ordering in for lunch. I would usually get the salad option. You can get the same ingredients in either burrito, bowl or salad form.

                    So a lunch of some chopped lettuce topped with chopped grilled chicken, black beans and salsa, is not bad, maybe even healthy, just never had very much flavor.

                    1. re: pamf

                      It's not "bland" and it's not really Mexican, it's created for the lowest common denominator of consumer. It'll do in a pinch and if it's down to Subway or Chipotle, then Chipotle comes across as fine dining.

                      1. re: pamf

                        Definitely why I haven't eaten there. We have really good, "authentic" and reasonably priced Mexican food. I can see if traveling, however, making a stop.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Next time you are in Jersey let me know I will take you for some genuine Mexican food that will make you think you just took a trip to Tijuana. (Minus any VD's or tattoos, unlike my last trip to Tijuana).

                              1. re: joonjoon

                                Oh......now we are all best buddies again! How quickly we forget how much you hated me on the quiz thread! I see how it is Joon!!!!

                                1. re: jrvedivici

                                  ...I have the forgiving heart of a saint when there's food involved?

                        2. re: c oliver

                          I took my son there last week for the first time and I would not say its step up from any other fast food place. In addition the healthy factor is only as good as what you order. His steak burrito with brown rice, salsa, guac, sour cream and cheese was well over 1000 calories, 60 grams of fat and over 2200 mg of sodium. Add chips and salsa and the calories jump to 1600, 87 grams of fat and over 3300 mg of sodium.

                          Replace the steak with chicken and the nutritional value doesn't really change. Swap out rice for fajita veggies and the calories are slightly under 1000 but the sodium jumps to 2400. And that is w/o the chips and salsa....

                          So like any other fast food this is "sometime" place and not on any kind of regular rotation.


                          1. re: foodieX2

                            That's great to know! I'd thought they were promoting themselves as healthy. Guess not.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              I "think" and I'm far from an expert on this subject, but as the video posted supports, I think they are very anti-gmo which is the "healthy" aspect they promote.

                                1. re: mcf

                                  You did notice I said; "I think"!?!?! Oh well you proved me wrong......those bastards!!! lol As I've stated I really don't care of Chipotle or any burrito place.

                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                    I wasn't about proving you wrong so much as demonstrating the dissonance between the beliefs Chipotle is cultivating in general (healthy, fresh food, locally sourced, non GMO, etc) vs. what they're offering.

                            2. re: foodieX2

                              It's rice and beans wrapped in a tortilla...no way around it being a calorie bomb. If you're interested in dropping the calories the salad bowl is a reasonable option.

                              That carb on carb action though...oh man it's making my mouth water.

                              1. re: joonjoon

                                I wasn't looking to save calories. I waas simply making a note to the poster who mentioned about its reputation of being healthy. I also noted it is all in the way you order, which is true at even at an organic, non gmo, farm to table, vegan place.

                                And the salad bowl is no different than the burrito if you order the same things-the only calories you save are from the tortilla. It's all in how you order...

                                1. re: foodieX2

                                  I tend to eat there because it's items I can actually identify as actual food (the meat looks like meat, the beans look like beans, and the veggies look like veggies)

                                  Stuff is prepared without immersing it in a bath of hot oil,

                                  And I have the ability to at least somewhat control my calorie intake.

                                  Food has calories. I get it. But I'd far rather take in my calories from things I can identify as pork, beans, rice, and chopped tomatoes than a patty of reconstituted something served on a fluffy white bun made from something and things that look like they might have been inspired by a potato.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    >But I'd far rather take in my calories from things I can identify as pork, beans, rice, and chopped tomatoes than a patty of reconstituted something served on a fluffy white bun made from something and things that look like they might have been inspired by a potato.

                                    To be fair, I don't know of any restaurant (chain or otherwise) serving food that fits your description.

                                    1. re: joonjoon

                                      Uh....most fast food out there is food-like substances, but that doesn't make them food.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        All of the major burger chains use actual potatoes and real beef...who uses "food-like substances"? Do you have anything to back up your claim?

                                        1. re: joonjoon

                                          y'know, I'm responding because I don't want you to think you've put me off.

                                          You haven't -- you obviously just don't define "edible" and "real" the same way I do.

                                    2. re: sunshine842

                                      I am not disputing that it is or isn't "real" food. I was disputing the fact that it isn't "healthier" than any other fast food place.

                                      A burrito like the one I described at chipotle isn't any healthier than the same one a Baja Fresh, Chilis or any other fast food place.

                                      And, not to repeat myself, but I am not looking down my nose at the place. My son ate it and it enjoyed it. Like the rare trips to McD's it's a sometime food. I try teach and model moderation. I just don't see how Chipotle is any "healthier"

                                      Interesting buzz feed article on the chain

                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                        It's fast food. It's also not deep-fried, buried under an avalanche of salt and sugar, or impregnated with enough artificial everything to mean it has a shelf life measured in years.

                                        I never said it was healthier...just that it's a little less UNhealthy than a processed burger on a processed bun with extruded potato product on the side.

                                2. re: foodieX2

                                  The idea is more that they offer healthy options..... A salad bowl (without the 250 calorie tortilla or guacamole) can be closer to 500-600 cal. But yeah, like everywhere you have to watch what you order for it to stay in the healthy range.
                                  And their chips aren't that great IMO

                                  1. re: Ttrockwood

                                    I agree -- I can't stand their chips, so there's no temptation at all there.

                                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                                      But don't all FF places offer healthy options now? However you never hear people saying "I just ate at McDonalds, it's so much healthier than <insert other FF place>!"

                                      You just gotta love Chipotles marketing company, they definitely got their moneys worth.

                                      I work with folks who go on about eating "healthy" by going to Chipotle instead of Taco Bell or 5 guys instead of McD's but they are ordering basically the same foods. A meat, cheese and rice burrito has basically the same nutritional value at both places, same with a loaded burger and fries. Its just that both Chipotle and 5 guys have better marketing:

                                      "We source our potatoes from local farms!"
                                      "All our cooking is FRESH"
                                      "We treat them like animals!"
                                      "There are no freezers in Five Guys locations, just coolers. Nothing is ever frozen."

                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                        Taco Bell -- gross beyond gross. There's a long thread here somewhere about how their "meat" isn't really. Fillers and crap. And I find refried pinto beans disgusting (whether at TB or elsewhere) -- there just isn't anything there that tastes good or has a pleasant texture as far as I'm concerned. I will seriously stop and eat a candy bar before I will eat Taco Bell in the hopes it keeps my blood sugar up until I can find some other option.

                                        McD -- okay, they have salads. Wilty, rusty salads. Blech. With chunks of chicken cut from a loaf of pressed-together chunks held together with aspic. Yech.

                                        Truth be told, I try not to eat at fast-food joints, because I don't think any of it is particular healthy. But life just doesn't always work that way.

                                        1. re: foodieX2

                                          Just to play devil's advocate - A number of years ago I followed the DASH diet. That's a doctor-recommended,medically considered safe diet suggested for diabetics and pre-diabetics (I'm not at risk myself, but a family member was and I did manage to lose 20 lbs. while on the diet). Taco Bell was the only fast food restaurant where I could put together a meal that fit the parameters of the 1200 calories a day diet.

                                          Whether or not you like the taste of Taco Bell is a personal call. But it is possible to put together a calorie-conscious, moderate carb meal there.

                                          1. re: rockycat

                                            That was my whole point, its all about how you order. Doesn't matter the restaurant. I never made a positive or disparaging remark about any of them just that the nutritional value is not dramatically different when you order the same food at taco bell, chipotle, baja fresh, chilis etc

                                      2. re: foodieX2

                                        Just because they are giving you a lot of food for your money doesn't mean you *have* to eat it all in one setting. Are you saying you would rather then give you a "healthier" portion of their food for the same $6.50 or so you are spending there? A burrito or bowl meal there is easily enough for two meals, possibly three - just save the rest and re-heat it when you're ready. There is another chain, DiBella's Subs, that make enormous sandwiches. They're like $7.50 or so for their large ones, but it's actually a bargain. One sandwich was enough for like 3 days or so of lunch. Honestly, it would cost me more to buy the amount of lunch meat alone that they put on their subs, let alone all the other ingredients, if I were trying to make them myself.

                                    2. There was actually an entire thread dedicated to this video but I'm too lazy to search for and link to it, so here is a link to the video. Why? Because I just think it's cool.............


                                      1. Wow lots of interesting opinions on Chipotle here. They are putting out great food at reasonable prices. It's a proper mission style burrito.

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: joonjoon

                                          It's not a proper Mission style burrito, but that was the model. It has become chain food standardized and the flavors have been dumbed down for the mass market.

                                          They do use good quality ingredients and it won't kill you to eat there, but it's not Chow-worthy food.

                                            1. re: joonjoon

                                              Cilantro rice, black beans, corn in the salsa, the type of meats they use and, as I said before, the lack of flavor in most of their ingredients.

                                              1. re: pamf

                                                They have pinto beans as an option. And why would black beans make it improper? Beans are beans. It's good to have choices.

                                                What's wrong with cilantro rice? That's a really minor liberty that I can live with.

                                                Corn in the salsa is also just an option. They have other salsa options available.

                                                What's wrong with the types of meat? Carnitas is not appropriate in a burrito?

                                            2. re: pamf

                                              <They do use good quality ingredients and it won't kill you to eat there, but it's not Chow-worthy food.>

                                              Ok, this made me laugh, given all the threads dedicated to our guilty pleasures, including fast foods and junk of all kinds.

                                              Me, I prefer Moe's to Chipotle. I do agree that Chipotle is cold and uninviting, way too much steel involved.

                                              1. re: pamf

                                                What is "dumbed down" about Pico De Gallo? You chop some tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and dress it with some lime juice, salt and pepper. Add some mashed avocado and you have guacamole. Their rice is just rice, fresh cilantro, lime juice and salt. Again, what's so "low brow" about that? What's not "authentic" about that? Is it somehow more special if a "celebrity chef" foo foos it up a bit more, farts on it, and charges like 10x more for it?

                                                1. re: Atomic76

                                                  Who said anything about celebrity chefs? When you are eating good Mexican food you want it to taste like someone's Grandma is in the kitchen.

                                                  Chipotle is just standardized, institutional food. It's bland and it's not a good representation of the food you will find at small, local restaurants in the SF Mission district or various other parts of California.

                                                  1. re: pamf

                                                    there's an awful lot of us who don't get the option of "small, local restaurants nt he SF mission district or various other parts of California"

                                                    There's also a lot of us who aren't looking for an ethereal experience -- an awful lot of us are just looking for something quick for lunch that resembles actual food and isn't deep fried or highly processed. It'd be nice if it didn't break the bank, but even Chipotle is missing this mark (as are most of the rest)

                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                      I think I mentioned upthread that I have had many office lunches from Chipotle, in many different parts of the US. So I feel confident to comment on it without being accused of condemning something I haven't tried.

                                                      My original response was to c_oliver, who I know from her posts on the SFBA board does have access. I simply replied that she shouldn't go out of her way to try Chipotle because she would probably be disappointed.

                                                      Mexican immigrants, and Mexican-Americans, are moving into most areas of the US. I hate to see people passing up an opportunity to try a local mom & pop place in favor of the *safe* chain choice.

                                            3. Tables or not, Chipotle is just a sanitized, corporatized facsimile of real taqueria food. Kind of like Cracker Barrel (aka plastic-bag grits 'n' greens) is to the small-town, down-home, mom 'n' pop joints it helped obliterate. I live in an area (Kansas City) with an abundance of real taquerias, most at least pretty good and a few excellent. But if I was in a place not as blessed, I'd be patronizing Chipotle. It ain't love, but it ain't bad. (It is, however, getting rather expensive.)

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: emu48

                                                definitely getting expensive (and so is all the other fast food).

                                                1. re: emu48

                                                  <But if I was in a place not as blessed, I'd be patronizing Chipotle. It ain't love, but it ain't bad. (It is, however, getting rather expensive.)>

                                                  Well said, emu48.

                                                  1. re: emu48

                                                    Your taquerias in KC must be worlds apart from our taquerias in Los Angeles, because there's nothing recognizable between Chipotle and the mom and pops here, other than a few common Spanish words on the menu.

                                                    Mr Taster

                                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                                      Hi Mr. Taster,

                                                      That's kind of what emu48 said, too. "Chipotle is just a sanitized, corporatized facsimile of real taqueria food."

                                                      emu48 does make the excellent point that if you don't live in an area with great Mexican food, it'll do. emu is right. I live just north of Tampa and our Mexican choices are abysmal. I have to drive an hour to get to the nearest taqueria. We have some local chain restaurants and a few one-offs, but they serve bland or terrible food, sometimes terribly bland, except for Casa Ramos, a north Cal import.

                                                      I was shocked at the dearth of Mexican food in Tampa when I moved here. After spending 3 years in the northwest, I was looking forward to the kind of food I knew from San Diego and later, Ventura/Oxnard. Color me disappointed.

                                                      1. re: DuffyH

                                                        ah, because the bulk of the Spanish-speaking population in the Tampa area are Spanish, Cuban, and Puerto Rican...so completely different (but delicious!) food culture.

                                                        Whether for better or worse, much of the Mexican population in the Tampa area are migrant workers, thus not much in the way of really permanent establishments.

                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          That's exactly right, sunshine. I suppose it makes a bit of sense, given our proximity to the Caribbean islands, and our distance from Mexico. But it still bums me out.

                                                          Living in SD and then later in Oxnard/Ventura, you couldn't leave your driveway without passing an excellent Mexican restaurant. How I miss that.

                                                  2. So Chipotle is the ass chaps of the fast food industry?

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: ricepad

                                                      Ahahahah! I think they're called assless chaps, but I got the picture (a picture in my mind of jrvedivici in assless chaps... aaaaaaaargh!).

                                                      1. re: drongo

                                                        Um...ok. I'll have to take your expert word for it. Not really my area of expertise!

                                                    2. The original decor of Chipotle was made from scrap materials - which was rather creative and resourceful. They're whimsical sculptures made from pieces of metal and wood. The founder opened his first restaurant with a very limited amount of money, so the decor reflects some of the ways he made the best of what he had to work with.

                                                      Just from my own observations, at any given time I was in line at Chipotle, I would say at least 80% or more of the people there were not dining in, but rather leaving with their food. So in that case, this makes sense imo.

                                                      Very few people actually use the dining areas of most fast food places these days from what I am seeing. The exception would be maybe food courts, or highway rest stops, airports and such. But your typical suburb fast food joint, the dining areas are usually empty.