Published on: February 8, 2016by Kevin Coupe
Today's the day or Chipotle.
The Mexican food chain, plagued by a series of food safety problems over the past few months - which apparently have come to an end without anybody being able to say precisely how and why they happened - will keep its stores closed today until 3 pm EST as it holds a company-wide meeting.
That meeting will allow company leadership to both thank employees for enduring the crises that have beset the company, leading to empty parking lots and declining sales, and to explain one last time the new food safety protocols that it hopes will prevent any new occurrences.
I think it is fair to say that Chipotle has a lot on its plate.
The company, which always has focused both on local sourcing and "food with integrity" as its differential advantages, now has to change its approach and move to some degree to more centralized sourcing and control as a way of making sure that new problems do not emerge. Its entire competitive premise has been that local sourcing results in "food with integrity," but recent events suggest that this may be true ... and now it has to find a new path to the same destination. That's not always easy.
As I've said here before, Chipotle's greatest advantage may be a level of brand equity that has a lot of people - many of them young - looking for an excuse to return. I know that my kids keep checking with me to ask if it is safe yet, and I've heard similar things from other Millennials.
They'll probably ask me the same thing today. I think I'll probably say yes, but with some trepidation. I've always liked Chipotle, but I'm not as invested as they are. I can live without it.
Jeff Bezos is fond of saying that at Amazon, "Today is day one."
At Chipotle, to some degree, that's a philosophy they have to embrace ... but they also have to be sure not to forget what's happened in recent days.
I'm not sure the degree to which Chipotle can survive new problems.
Fingers crossed for Chipotle. Today, the company gets a brief time out. Then, it's game on.
What happens next may be an Eye-Opener.
- KC's View: