A corporate strategy article by Thunderbird students Manya Andrews Dotson, Wes Herche, Brie Lam, William Randle and Jonathan Walters
Abstract: Can a cut and paste application of the Chipotle strategy lead to another runaway restaurant success in an industry rife with pressures on profitability? Was it the business model that fueled Chipotle’s meteoric rise? Or was it that CEO Steve Ells took a food we already knew and loved, the burrito, and made it taste even better? Or, are the two inseparable? Will replicating Chipotle’s strategy yield another blue ocean success story?
The foodie blogs are abuzz . . . a new naked light bulb has been lit in a stainless steel restaurant in Washington DC’s Dupont Circle. Firmly planted in a neighborhood where restaurants such as Panera Bread, Cosi and Starbucks dot the grid, it fights for purchase in a bloody — if tasty — battle for the upscale business lunch crowd fed up with traditional fa(s)t food (though, there’s some of that around there too). It boasts artisanal tofu, farm fresh ingredients, and free-range meats charred to medium-rare perfection right under the customer’s nose. It would be hard to believe that an Asian restaurant this good could be using the same playbook as the blazing burrito chain, Chipotle.