Chipotle says it plans to open burger restaurant

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE: CMG) plans to open burger restaurant as early as this Fall. The burrito chain said on Thursday it would open a new restaurant named “Tasty Made” in a few months near Columbus, Ohio, serving burgers, fries and shakes and hoping to carve out the same kind of niche it has for Chipotle with a focus on what it considers better ingredients and customizable meals.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. already has its hands full trying to recover from the E. coli outbreak and norovirus cases that sent sales plunging starting last fall. It has been giving away coupons for free burritos and stepping up marketing to win back customers, but sales were still down 24% at established locations in the second quarter.

“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 number of kinds of cuisine,” said Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle, in a statement.

It will not be the first time Chipotle try to expand into new cuisines. It debuted ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen in 2001 and invested in Pizzeria Locale in 2013. Chipotle won a huge following for its “good food, fast” philosophy that includes serving meats from animals raised without antibiotics and organic produce when available. But it is still fighting to win back customers who abandoned the chain after a series of food safety lapses last year.

Chipotle said Tasty Made will use the beef from animals that are raised in more human ways  and without use of antibiotics or added hormones. The shakes will tap natural ingredients like milk, cream, sugar, and eggs. As for the buns, they will be free of preservatives, dough conditioners and other artificial ingredients.

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