DENVER – Burritos for breakfast? How about tacos before 10 am? Those are questions Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is considering at it relates to expanded day-parts.

In an April 18 conference call with analysts regarding its fiscal 2013 first-quarter earnings, Steve Ells, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Chipotle, said the restaurant chain currently has only two restaurants that are open during traditional breakfast hours. Both restaurants are located in airports — one at Dulles Airport in Washington and one at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

The restaurant within the Dulles Airport is open early and serves Chipotle’s regular menu, but the site in Baltimore has a breakfast menu, Ells said.

The breakfast menu includes frittatas, a new item that Ells described as “really, really delicious.”
Frittatas are egg-based dishes similar to omelets or crustless quiches, and typically include additional ingredients such as meats, cheeses, vegetables or pasta.

Ells said Chipotle offers two varieties of frittatas at the Baltimore airport — a chorizo (Mexican sausage) frittata and a vegetarian frittata.

“(They’re) very, very popular and gaining more popularity as we continue to serve it,” Ells said. “Those are the only two places really that I would consider us having breakfast.”

That said, Ells said Chipotle does open its restaurants earlier in the day in areas where there is demand. He said restaurant managers watch traffic and activity in their neighborhoods to determine whether there is a need.

“We can open up as early as 10 o’clock,” he said. “I’m not sure if we open up much earlier than that, but if there is demand in those areas, they certainly do take advantage of that and open up, and that’s in a number of restaurants in all of our markets.”

One of Chipotle’s competitors in the quick-service Mexican food market is Irvine, Calif.-based Taco Bell Corp., a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc. Last fall, Taco Bell expanded its FirstMeal breakfast menu with the launch of the A.M. Crunchwrap and Mtn Dew A.M.

Taco Bell’s FirstMeal breakfast menu is offered up until 11 am at most locations.

Taco Bueno, another large Mexican restaurant chain based in Farmers Ranch, Texas, has offered a line of breakfast items, including egg burritos and breakfast platters, since 2007.