William Brandon—courtesy of Chipotle

They're taking some cues from Taco Bell. 

Mike Pomranz
August 10, 2018

Chipotle Mexican Grill has another new strategy for trying to revitalize interest in the downtrodden burrito chain—and new CEO Brian Niccol, who took over in March, appears to be digging into the playbook of the last major brand he worked for: Taco Bell. Chipotle will be testing a number of buzzworthy new items including bacon, nachos, late night eats, and a chips and drink meal deal.

In announcing the new offerings, which will be tested in select resturants in different markets, Chipotle began by reiterating a bit of tried and true messaging for the food world: “Everything is better with bacon,” the brand began. Applewood Smoked Bacon was first tested at the Chipotle NEXT Kitchen, the chain’s New York City public testing grounds, where it received “a tremendous response.” Now, bacon “begins its journey on the road to a national rollout” with a further test at eight locations in Orange County, California, in September. “We found consumers added bacon to their traditional bowls, burritos, tacos and nachos while also enjoying new items such as the BLT quesadilla,” Chris Brandt, Chipotle’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

Speaking of putting bacon on nachos, Chipotle also confirmed that nachos themselves will be trialed in more locations after seeing positive results in a ten-restaurant test. The dish—which includes “homemade corn tortilla chips topped with an all new genuine queso and choice of meat, beans, salsas and lettuce”—will next arrive in Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul in October.

Meanwhile, the chain is also testing a couple other promotions. Participating locations in Miami and Dallas will offer $2 tacos with the purchase of any drink after 8 p.m. until the end of next month, and will also stay open later, until 11 p.m. And select Philadelphia and Indianapolis restaurants will be trying out an option to add regular-sized chips and a fountain drink to entree orders for just $3. “A cornerstone of our new strategy is to make Chipotle more culturally relevant and to meet our customers where they are with flavorful food they can feel good about eating,” Brandt continued.

Of course, with the recent news that’s circulated, we’d be remiss not to point out that the best thing Chipotle could do for its reputation is to avoid future illness outbreaks. All the bacon in the world won’t offset reports about hundreds of customers getting sick.