For my day job I have to keep up on restaurant news in general. Lately it's been filled with Chipotle stories. Honestly, I feel they are really getting picked on. I have to think it's a form of corporate jealousy. Here's a chain that found a winning formula of making good food with whole, ingredients that are sourced locally and with an eye to things like hormones, antibiotics, GMOs, etc. People responded to it and they became a business to be emulated. Not it's one to sling arrows at.
It's akin to the most beautiful, smart, popular girl in school who, behind her back, is being ridiculed and slammed as a slut by those that are jealous that she could have all three: smarts, looks, and a good personality. It's shameful behavior and yet it happens in every facet of life.
But I'm standing by Chipotle, even though I'm facing some disappointments with the changes they are being forced to make. The thing is, it's not the same disappointments as the rest of the country.
As a person who wants to eat healthy, whole foods, I appreciate the Chipotle model. As a person who works on the outskirts of the restaurant industry, I appreciate the trials that restaurants go through to serve safe food.
The thing is, there are always health and safety concerns happening daily at thousands of restaurants throughout the country. Whether it is a problem with roaches or rats or sick employees, these are things that are dealt with constantly and yet Chipotle's has been magnified so dramatically by the press who keep harping on it months and months after.
What makes it even more frustrating is that there's been no definitive cause for the illnesses. They have no idea where the e-coli came from and the norovirus could have been a sick employee or it could have been a sick customer. I also think a big part of the problems was just poor hygiene training of staff within individual stores.
While I'm happy to see them now offering sick days for employees and they closed for thorough training of staff today, I am saddened and disappointed by some of the choices made regarding their ingredients. I happen to prefer that they prepare and make their food fresh on site. Their issues over the last few months are the same that hundreds of independent restaurants face regularly, yet because they are a national chain they are being forced to centralize everything. Produce will now be prepped and packaged at central locations and then shipped pre-cut and pre-prepared to restaurants. I personally believe there could be a bigger issue of food safety done on a large, central scale and meanwhile lose the freshness of store preparation.
Time will tell, but some of the Chipotle appeal has been lost to me now. I will still be a customer, but I'm disappointed how this has all played out and Chipotle has had to suffer... because I still believe in them. It makes me kinda believe the whole corporate conspiracy theories that have been floated about. Whether it's only the media overly feeding on a story that should be done or real conspiracy, there's high schoolish jealousy going on as far as I'm concerned. Leave Chipotle alone now for a while and go pick on some other story.