DENVER – Ending months of speculation, Chipotle Mexican Grill confirmed plans to open Tasty Made, a restaurant specializing in premium hamburgers. The restaurant will open this fall in Lancaster, Ohio, and the menu will focus only on burgers, fresh-cut french fries, and milkshakes.
“Chipotle has been focused on a long-term vision to change the way people think about and eat fast food,” Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle, 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.”
Tasty Made will use Responsibly Raised brand beef which indicates that the cattle are raised using humane handling practices and without the use of antibiotics or added hormones. The burgers will be served on fresh-made buns free of preservatives, dough conditioners, and other artificial ingredients. Also, milkshakes will be made using milk, cream, sugar, eggs and “other natural ingredients,” the company said.
The company hinted at the possibility of expanding into the premium burger space when the company filed a trademark application in March for “Better Burger.” Tasty Made is the brain-child of Ells and two Chipotle staff members, Nate Appleman and David Chrisman.
Appleman, who joined Chipotle in 2010, is a 2009 James Beard award-winning chef with stints at San Francisco’s A16, an Italian-themed eatery and the former Pulino’s Bar and Pizzeria in New York, among other notable restaurants. Chrisman has spent 17 years at Chipotle, most recently as national training director where he led all training functions and new restaurant openings.
The Tasty Made venture comes as Chipotle Mexican Grill continues its recovery from a series of food safety mishaps that occurred last year. Some analysts covering the restaurant industry questioned the wisdom of opening a burger-centric restaurant given concerns associated with ground beef and E. coli.
“Early fast food burger restaurants generally had focused menus,” Ells said. “We think there’s great strength in that original fast food model and wanted to create a restaurant built around that. Making only burgers, fries and shakes with really great ingredients, we think we can appeal to peoples’ timeless love of burgers, but in a way that is consistent with our long-term vision.”
Tasty Made isn’t Chipotle’s first venture beyond tortillas. The company operates ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen and remains a partner in Pizzeria Locale.