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Less than a week after Hillary Clinton stiffed the servers at a Chipotle, the company admitted they didn’t hit their first quarter numbers. Forbes magazine is concerned that the lackluster performance might indicate a slowdown for the vibrant burrito sector of the American economy.
Burrito behemoth Chipotle has built its success on fresh ingredients and a reputation for being a healthier alternative to other fast (or fast-casual) food. But as health-conscious consumers have learned that Chipotle is not always all that healthy – a day’s worth of sodium, anyone? — revenue growth and same-store sales at the restaurant chain has slowed, indicating that the burrito market is no longer “hotter than hot sauce.”
Chipotle Mexican Grill reported Tuesday afternoon that it recorded $1.09 billion in first quarter revenue, a figure that marks a healthy 20.4% increase over sales reported this time last year but that is short of the $1.11 billion Wall Street expected to see from the company. The 20.4% sales growth, too, looks less impressive upon further inspection: it’s down from 27% growth last quarter and down from the 24% pop reported for the year-ago quarter.
Same-store sales increased 10.4%, but slowed on a quarter-by-quarter basis: the first quarter’s result is down from the 16.1% growth reported in the fourth quarter of 2014 and from 19.8% in 2014′s third quarter. The company said that comparable sales growth was driven by an increase in check size (due to a menu price increase that took full effect during the second quarter of 2014) as well as increased foot traffic.
As of today, company shares are down 5%. Living in the Great American Southwest, I’m happy to see Chipotle’s numbers lagging. Despite what those in the upper Midwest and East Coast might think, the company makes a horrible burrito and I’ll tell you why.
Behold the Five Pillars of Burrito-making:
- No rice is allowed in a burrito. The tortilla wrapping provides 100% of your starchy, carby goodness. Tossing in two cups of flavorless white rice is unnecessary as it is unhealthy. It throws off the optimal protein/fat/carb balance while subtracting flavor. Might as well fill it with packing peanuts and dryer lint.
- Incorrect ratio of tortilla to filling. The weight of the filling should be no more than twice the weight of the tortilla. Yes, I just made up that ratio, but Chipotle violates it by a factor of three. Again, this throws off the balance of ingredients and tastes awful.
- Tortillas should have flavor. The best part of a good burrito at my Phoenix-area hole-in-the-wall is the fresh-made tortilla still warm from the oven. Chipotle’s tortillas taste like their rice which tastes like nothing whatsoever. The last time they saw an oven was two weeks back when they left the factory in Omaha.
- Keep it simple. I’ll allow three ingredients in a burrito; four if I’ve had a couple Negra Modelos. But this barbacoa/corn/rice/sour cream/pico de gallo/guacamole/cheese/beans nonsense is an abomination. You know what my local burritería puts in their Carne Asada Burrito? Carne asada. Don’t mess with perfection, gringos.
- Keep it semi-healthy. Despite being advertised as “healthy,” a Chipotle burrito clocks in at about 1,000 calories — 1,600 if you get all the fixings. That latter number is all the calories you need in a day, and you wasted it on a horrible fast-food burrito. I have no idea how many calories my aforementioned Carne Asada Burrito offers since the owners are probably not on the best terms with federal agencies. (I can’t wear a tie and shades into the place without someone shouting “la migra!” and clearing out the kitchen.) But I’d guess the meal is under 700 calories with a plurality of that being protein. I can eat three of those a day and tomorrow I just might.
As you can see, burrito science proves that Chipotle makes terrible food. While I’m ranting about Mexican food (my favorite cuisine, I might add), I must note that every border state has their own spin. New Mexico focuses on the chiles, Arizona on the meat, and so on. Here are my rankings on which region offers the best Mexican cuisine:
- New Mexico
- The country of Mexico
- California and Texas (tie)
If you disagree with any of the information provided above, be sure to chastise me in the comments. I’m off to get some carne asada.