Feature

Chipotle is a lot like Apple

What Steve Jobs did with the cellphone, Chipotle founder Steve Ells has done with fast food, said Matthew Yglesias at Slate.com.

Matthew Yglesias
Slate.com

Chipotle Mexican Grill deserves to be “seen as a great American success story,” said Matthew Yglesias. You’ve probably seen their outlets springing up around the country. The stock is up 50 percent over the past year, and revenue is taking off. But since “politicians don’t name-drop burrito innovators,” the chain doesn’t get as much attention as the triumphs of Silicon Valley do. In many ways, however, “the Chipotle burrito is very similar to the iPhone.” What Steve Jobs did with the cellphone, Chipotle founder Steve Ells has done with fast food. He’s kept the convenience and speed but raised the bar on quality, and customers are willing to pay more for his superior product. He innovates, too: Chipotle uses the sous-vide cooking method, which is “mostly associated with cutting-edge haute cuisine.” Celebrating a burrito chain may lack “the romance of a certain kind of industrial nostalgia.” But premium fast food is a “bona fide boom market,” and Chipotle is at the forefront. It’s proof that there is “room for growth and innovation in even the most basic sectors of the economy.”

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