Ruminations of a Taco-Obsessed Philly Native

Recently, Chipotle has been in the news, and not in a good way. The famous burrito chain had a serious E.Coli scare complete with an investigation by the CDC. The investigation has not yet been closed but the risk of E.Coli is gone. Patrons seem to be shying away and taking their burrito money elsewhere. The drop in sales can be seen at a corporate level as the Chipotle CEO, Steve Ells, announced an astonishing 44 percent net income decrease.

The company is facing an uphill battle as they will, undoubtedly, call in the PR specialists to regain positive publicity and bring back their customer base. The biggest problem according to PR expert Jon Urbana (Fox Carolina) lies in the investigation of Chipotle’s sanitation practices nationwide due to the CDC expanding their original search into the cause of the food-borne illness. Couple that with plenty of stiff competition and it may spell out an uncertain future for Chipotle. The company can only hope this goes away quickly so that they can begin saving face.

Tortillas are yummy and sinfully delicious, packed with most anything you fancy- cheese, beef, tomatoes, guacamole and the tasty list goes on and on. Chipotle’s serves 800,000 tortillas a day.

Now what if we told you, the shell is an essential part of the whole tortilla dining experience.

Say what?

It’s true, Sam Tabar says, and the popular restaurant chain is boasting they can build a better tortilla, one that’s healthy and only uses four ingredients: whole wheat flour, water, oil and salt, or at least that’s what PrNewsWire says.

According to the NYTimes.com, Chipotle’s not hungry for customers, but wants to help us all eat better. Currently, the chain uses extra additives to build their tortillas which gives them a longer shelf and makes it more convenient to make tons of them fast:

Flour, water, whole-wheat flour, canola oil, salt, baking soda, wheat bran, fumaric acid, calcium propionate, sorbic acid and sodium metabisulfite.

The man who founded Chipotle wants mass-market tortillas to change and he’s finding a way. “We aspire to make artisanal tortillas on an industrial scale,” said Steve Ells, who happens to also be a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.

It sounds easy to accomplish, but whole what flour poses a few challenges, unlike white flour. Rising dough, the right temperature, it’s like science, and it will take a while before the lab can build the healthy, natural 4-ingredient tortilla for mass market at Chipotle’s.

Ole!

Chipotle is the latest in a list of morally-conscious companies that are offering their employees better benefits. The company announced this week that they would begin offering paid time off, sick days, and tuition reimbursement to its part-time employees. The company stated they are looking to attract high school and college employees without the new policies. They noted that employee loyalty will help the company achieve bigger and better things, and by offering such perks, they will develop that loyalty with their employees that they require.

The move comes after Starbucks began offering a similar program, including free online schooling to both full-time and part-time employees. McDonald’s has also begun to offer some perks, although the company does not meet the standards that both Chipotle and Starbucks have set, according to major investors.

The announcement comes after the fast food industry came under fire for its poor treatment of its employees. Employees argue that the pay rate, in particular, is so abysmally low that one can not actively make a living while working at such chains. McDonald’s, in particular, was chastised for their treatment of employees and their lack of empathy for their plight.