Once upon a time, the idea of Chipotle – once regarded as one of America’s best fast food chains – launching a new burger concept probably would have gotten fans of the Mexican food brand excited. “Just imagine if Chipotle does for burgers what it did for burritos,” you could image fans saying. However, that exact phrase has taken on a whole new meaning in the wake of Chipotle’s food poisoning issues. Imagining Chipotle running a burger restaurant exactly the same way it ran its burrito joints might be enough to sour your stomach
But here we are: Chipotle has officially announced that the long-percolating rumors are true; the company will be launching its own burger concept this fall in Lancaster, Ohio. Only the name came as a bit of a surprise: Taste Made. I guess the burger chain name pickings were slim after the company axed the idea of using the name “Better Burger” earlier this year.
The Taste Made menu will reportedly be very simple, focusing solely on burgers, fresh-cut French fries and milkshakes – though it will have the usual Chipotle flare: Responsibly Raised brand beef served on buns free of preservatives or artificial ingredients alongside shakes made strictly from natural ingredients.
“Chipotle has been focused on a long-term vision to change the way people think about and eat fast food,” Chipotle founder, chairman and co-chief executive officer Steve Ells said in a statement. “At the heart of that is our commitment to great quality ingredients and classic cooking techniques — traits that are absolutely necessary to make the best tasting food, and that can be applied to a number of kinds of cuisine.”
Again, though, applying the Chipotle philosophy to another cuisine may be seen in a different light than it was over a year ago. What previously could have been a launching pad for a new brand now comes with some marketing baggage. But the Chipotle philosophy of “food with integrity” remains strong, and the team behind Tasty Made, including Food & Wine 2009 Best New Chef Nate Appleman, certainly seem capable. But are Americans ready to give Chipotle another chance even if it’s under a completely different umbrella?
I guess we’ll find out starting this fall.