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Not Even Queso Can Bring Back Chipotle

After the 2015 E. Coli outbreak, Chipotle's recent actions have not proven to aid in their recovery.

Chad Davis, Staff Writer

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Burrito lovers around the world (including myself) were shocked in 2015 when it was reported that Chipotle restaurants in multiple states had caused consumers to be infected with E.Coli.  After having a large drop in patronage, Chipotle has taken measures such as an increase in advertising and offers of free food to try and earn back the people’s trust.  The most recent of these efforts was questionable sacrificing of chorizo, in order to add queso to their menus.  While this addition takes away one of Chipotle’s competitors, Moe’s, main selling points, it has not proven to bring the growth that they had desired.  Let’s examine why.

Some Miss Chorizo

While chorizo was just added late last year, the spicy chicken-pork sausage has been cut from the menu, chorizo only accounted for 3% of all protein sold by Chipotle, making it the target for replacement.  While the majority of people have no problem with it being chopped, there are a noticeable group of people who are upset at this decision.  It was risky for Chipotle to risk losing a portion of their customers by eliminating a protein in favor of queso, a dip or filling depending on your order, which is welcomed, but unlikely to impact sales the same way that a meat addition would.  The negative feedback from getting rid of chorizo is barely balanced by the people who are excited by this new addition.

Their Queso is Far From Perfect

In addition to the hate received from chorizo fans, Chipotle also has the issue that their queso is rather sub-par.  There have been mixed reviews on the product itself, but a common message is that it is decent, but also somewhat “grainy.”  This was a big opportunity of Chipotle to reel in some new customers, and the fact that their queso is not the liquid gold that some had hoped may cause more harm the good.  Consider this: if you are a customer who hasn’t eaten Chipotle since their health scare, then when you are finally coming back to try their new offering of queso, any disappointment in your experience will probably cause you to give up on them.  It is because of this possibility that queso has an equal chance to bring back customers as it does to reassure people that they are not worth the time or money.

My Experience

A week after the launch of the new product, I was able to try the new queso at the Chipotle on Airport Road.  When I asked the employees’ opinions on their new product, they agreed with most of the reports on the product.  One worker stated that he personally liked the queso, but warned that its grainy texture may be a turn off for myself.  Another employee offered me a sample of the queso, and I was shocked.  While the texture is not at all like the queso I have had at numerous other restaurants, it was certainly unique and grew on me as I savored it.  The grainy texture was far less overwhelming than I expected, and the spice with the cheese flavor was rather delicious.  I was even moved to add the product to my bowl (which never changes) for $1.30.  I believe that their queso would especially shine with tortilla chips as its “graininess” would actually work fairly well with a crunchy chip.  While I doubt that this addition will restore Chipotle to its glory before 2015, it is most certainly a welcomed change that deserves a taste from those who enjoy similar cuisine.

 

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Not Even Queso Can Bring Back Chipotle