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  • Writer's pictureJeff Matthews

If Donald Trump Ran a Publicly Traded Restaurant Chain The CEO Might Sound Like This

You’d be forgiven if, after hearing the CEO of Chipotle describe its first ShopHouse Asian Kitchen restaurant concept that was opened in DuPont Circle a few years ago, you agreed with the cohort of Wall Street’s finest that declared ShopHouse might become the next leg of growth for the then-plenty-fast-growing-already purveyor of burritos and tacos “With Integrity.”

You’d be forgiven because the CEO of Chipotle repeatedly—and by that, we mean more than a dozen times over the next few years—promoted the concept and often compared that first ShopHouse restaurant with the early days of Chipotle itself.

In fact, so forcefully and frequently did the CEO push the ShopHouse-as-the-Next-Chipotle theme over the years, the more cynical among our readers would be forgiven for reading the following time-line of quotes from the Chipotle CEO and asking themselves, “Wait a minute, does Donald Trump run Chipotle on the side?”

Indeed, the Trump analogy does not end there, for just today Nation’s Restaurant News broke the story that Chipotle is in fact closing all 15 ShopHouse restaurants.

But not to worry, for the same CEO who has persistently and persuasively told us that all is well with the Chipotle business lately is the one who told us the following about ShopHouse…

10/20/11 “Some customers have commented that it’s a bit too spicy which is exactly what I heard when I opened the very first Chipotle 18 years ago…. What I love is that these customers tell me that it might be too spicy, while they devour every bite of their meal.”

1/11/12 “And it’s doing great, there’s a line out the door every day for lunch and dinner…so we are about to start construction on our second one. …But again, this is just sort of laying the groundwork for future expansion possibilities.”

2/1/12 “While we’re still working to perfect the concept, it reminds me very much of the first Chipotle when it originally opened.”

3/7/12 “It’s going really, really well. … So you can imagine the potential now that is [sic] not just limited to burritos and tacos. So we’re very excited about it.”

4/19/12 “But it really was designed to be kind of the same, the same thing as Chipotle. … So any kind of cuisine can fit into this model. So I think we’re very bullish that when and if the time comes that we want to accelerate this, we can do that.” “And I think that it’s fair to say that the sales are very similar to the Chipotle that’s across the street. In fact, I would say that the unit economic model in general is substantially similar to that of Chipotle in general.”

6/5/12 “The only difference between ShopHouse and Chipotle is the cuisine. Everything else is the same, the investment cost, the economic model, the service format, the price point, the size of the location.”

6/14/12 “…it’s going very, very well.”

1/17/13 “The first ShopHouse opened about a year and a half ago and it reminds me a lot of when I opened the first Chipotle. Customers have really taken to it from day one…”

2/5/13 “Shophouse in Washington DC continues to perform well and reminds me very much of the first Chipotle when I opened it almost 20 years ago.”

3/5/13 “And what’s really exciting is that we’re proving that this is not just a model for burritos and tacos, but for other types of cuisines as well… ShopHouse continues to perform well and reminds me a lot of the very first Chipotle when I opened it 20 years ago.”

5/9/13 “And it’s doing really well. …. in so many ways it’s exactly the same as Chipotle.”

7/18/13 “Shophouse is continuing to show us that there is significant potential for our business beyond burritos and tacos and we are really encouraged by its potential.”

10/17/13 “Our growth at ShopHouse is much faster than Chipotle was in the early days.”

1/30/14 “ShopHouse continues to remind me of Chipotle in its earliest days.”

4/29/14 “ShopHouse is the Southeast Asian version of Chipotle, it’s the same sort of operating platform… And it’s going very, very well…”

5/28/14 “Well we’re certainly growing these concepts faster than Chipotle initially grew.”

10/20/14 “Shophouse very much reminds me of Chipotle when I opened the first one of the restaurants.”

3/9/17 Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is closing all 15 ShopHouse Asian Kitchen chain next week, the company confirmed to Nation’s Restaurant News on Thursday. Chris Arnold, a spokesman for the Denver-based company, said that the company has a deal to sell the leases for the ShopHouse locations and plans to close the restaurants effective March 17. “We now have a deal in place to sell the ShopHouse leases and believe that is the right decision at this time,” Arnold said in an email to Nation’s Restaurant News.


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