Fans are un­fazed by is­sues

Ill­nesses, a law­suit, fall­ing stock prices don’t lessen ap­peal.

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Maura Jud­kis

For many Chipo­tle cus­tomers, the hon­ey­moon phase is over.

Sales have taken a hit, and its stock price is fall­ing, drop­ping an­other 1.5 per­cent to $404.86 on Tues­day. The Den­ver-based fast-ca­sual restau­rant com­pany has been served with a grand jury subpoena and is be­ing sued by share­hold­ers, re­lated to in­fec­tious dis­ease out­breaks that al­legedly sick­ened 500 peo­ple na­tion­wide.

But it’s not like any­one has died. So Chipo­tle fans keep eat­ing their bur­ri­tos.

Mem­bers of the cult of Chipo­tle have been in­spired to wear an alu­minum-foil bur­rito cos­tume on Hal­loween and make bur­rito-shaped cakes, and one per­suaded peo­ple to shell out $1,050 on Kick­starter to help him ful­fill his dream of film­ing him­self eat­ing a Chipo­tle bur­rito while sky­div­ing.

“Some­times, some­thing gets some sort of odd cult fol­low­ing, and it builds upon it­self,” said Anne Owens of Blacks­burg, Va.

She and her hus­band went to Chipo­tle on their wed­ding day and re­turn ev­ery year on their an­niver­sary. Her friends have tried to get her to stop eat­ing at the restau­rant.

“They ask us if we get sick be­cause they know how of­ten we go,” she said. “They laugh and say, ‘If you guys give up on Chipo­tle, there’s no chance’ ” that the brand could bounce back.

Those who don’t share the Owens’ level of fan­dom still stick to Chipo­tle like salt on the rim of a mar­garita glass.

“If I’m not sick, I’m not stop­ping eat­ing Chipo­tle,” said cab driver Yanem­sew Zeg­eye, 29, who eats a veg­e­tar­ian Chipo­tle meal ev­ery week­day.

Af­ter all, Jack in the Box came back, even af­ter four chil­dren died 20 years ago from eat­ing un­der­cooked burg­ers tainted with E. coli.

Sonni Nucci, 29, a gen­eral con­trac­tor in Mary­land, dived into an or­der of chicken tacos with “all three sal­sas, cheese and a lit­tle sour cream. And my buddy turned me on to the vinai­grette mix. You ever have that?” Nucci said. Would he stick with the brand? “Al­ways,” he said. “Well, un­less peo­ple start dy­ing.”

Peo­ple who love Chipo­tle are not let­ting a few sick cus­tomers de­ter them from con­tin­u­ing to dine at the restau­rants. Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Im­ages

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.