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Clocking Chipotle’s standout quarter

Chipotle’s 13.4 percent increase in same-store sales was the number that grabbed headlines, but it wasn’t the only first-quarter metric that had competitors wondering if they were reading a typo. Consider these additional gauges of the burrito chain’s first-quarter performance:

  • Seven more guests were served on average during both peak lunch and dinner hours because of throughput enhancements. Yet labor costs decreased.
  • More than half the customers who order Chipotle’s new Sofritas veggie option are meat eaters. The tofu-based meat substitute accounts for 4 percent of sales in the 1,000 stores where it’s currently available, according to CEO Steve Ells.
  • The number of genetically modified ingredients in Chipotle’s kitchen should fall to zero by year’s end, Ells said. Right now, only the corn and flour tortillas could contain traces of GMOs, and new versions are being tested. “We hope to be able to roll them out by the end of the year,” Ells said.
  • Chipotle’s Farmed and Dangerous on-demand show was among the five most-downloaded programs on Hulu and Hulu Plus during the day of its debut. The four-episode series satirizes factory farming.
  • Every Chipotle except the stores in New York City now offers catering, but the chain has no plans to extend that service into meal delivery, Ells said.

Despite all those measured achievements, Chipotle’s stock price initially fell by 6 percent because the company’s 8 percent jump in profits was still more modest than Wall Street had expected.

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