Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG) announced on late Wednesday that it has filed a trademark application this month for a new burger chain named “Better Burger”.
The Denver based company has opened two smaller chains before. It has opened the noodle-selling chain ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen in Washington, Los Angeles and Chicago and the Pizzeria Locale chain specialized in wood-fired pizza in Colorado. The new burger chain would continue its efforts to apply the fast-casual model with fresh ingredients and customized menu items to other cuisines.
“It’s a growth seed idea we are exploring,” Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle, said in an e-mail that “We have two non-Chipotle growth seeds open now -- ShopHouse and Pizzeria Locale -- and have noted before that the Chipotle model could be applied to a wide variety of foods.”
Chipotle has achieved great success since its founding in 1993 by emphasizing the use of organic vegetables and beans and naturally raised meat. But the company suffered a series of norovirus, salmonella and E. coli outbreaks in last year. In February, Chipotle reported its worst ever quarterly results. Its fourth-quarter net income fell 44% compared to the same period in last year at $67.9 million. And same-store sales were down 14.6%. Burgers would be a potentially profitable area for Chipotle since the hamburger industry is around four times larger than the Mexican-food business. A fast-casual burger chain may bring new opportunities for Chipotle to recover from the food-safety crisis.