Founded and headquartered in Denver, Colo., Chipotle Mexican Grill now has many fans in Georgia, especially in metropolitan Atlanta, according to company marketing strategist Mark Pilkington.
Chipotle, which opened its first restaurant in 1993, on Feb. 2 opened its latest Atlanta area restaurant in Tucker. It joins other DeKalb stores in Northlake, downtown Decatur, North Druid Hills and the Emory University area.
“We opened our first Atlanta area restaurant in 2003 and we’ve been growing rapidly in Atlanta ever since. The Tucker location is a perfect spot for us; we’re so excited to be there,” Pilkington said of the restaurant in The Centre on Hugh Howell. “We’ve eyed the location for a long time. Tucker is a flourishing city and we feel its vibrant population will be attracted to the food at Chipotle.”
He said the busy area east of I-285 has lots of daytime traffic and he anticipates that many who work in the area will try the new restaurant. The Tucker Chipotle is 2,120 square feet and can seat approximately 55 patrons inside and 20 outside.
Pilkington said Chipotle stands out from other restaurants in its category because of “fresh, high-quality food and classic cooking techniques.”
“Our founder, Steve Ellis, started with the idea that food served fast doesn’t have to be what people typically think of as fast food,” Pilkington said, adding that Ellis is a classically trained chef who appreciates the difference serving food prepared by a skilled, highly trained staff makes.
Among the places Ellis lived and worked is San Francisco, where he noted the popularity of Mexican food and decided to feature it when he opened a restaurant. He named his restaurant for the chipotle, a smoked, dried pepper that’s common in Mexican and Mexican-inspired cuisine, and incorporated the pepper into its logo.
Chipotle has a Food With Integrity program that outlines its commitment to what it calls “meticulously sourced meats and produce.” The corporate website states: “Every choice we make—about who we work with, what we serve, and what we stand for—affects the bigger picture: the health of the planet. Nutrient-rich soil reduces the need for pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, buying locally reduces vehicle emissions from transportation, and humane animal husbandry means diminished reliance on antibiotics.”
Pilkington said the Chipotle website offers detailed information on the food so that those who follow vegan or vegetarian diets as well as those who are restricting calories or who have allergies can know what is in each dish before they order.
“Fine dining elements were brought to a quick-serve environment, giving diners an experience that defied categorization when we first opened,” Pilkington said.
The Chipotle menu offers such Mexican standards as burritos and taco as well as salads and bowls—which it describes as “burritos without the tortilla.” Unlike most area quick-serve restaurants, Chipotle offers beer and margaritas along with its selection of non-alcoholic beverages.
Pilkington said Chipotle’s success also is attributable to its policy of hiring “great people” and offering them exceptional benefits. He said providing rewarding opportunities for employees leads naturally to a more satisfying customer experience. The new restaurant initially employed 25 people and may add to its crew in the coming weeks.
The company, which started as a lone eatery 24 years ago, is now a chain of more than 1,700 restaurants many of which offer catering services. In addition to those in the United States, there are Chipotle Mexican Grills in the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and France. All of Chipotle’s restaurants are owned by the corporation; there are no franchises.
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