Chipotle's safety problems eat into CEOs' paychecks

chipotle mexican grill sign

The E. coli outbreaks at Chipotle restaurants have claimed two more victims: co-CEOs Steve Ells and Monty Moran, whose compensation packages for 2015 were halved because of a free fall in sales following the food contaminations.

Yet even with the cuts, the executives still collected more than $13 million each in salary and noncash compensation. Ells was paid $13.8 million, compared with total compensation of just under $29 million for 2014, and Moran earned $13.6 million, down from $28.2 million.

The pair’s pay levels have been criticized for years by investors, who took the unusual step of rejecting the duo’s packages in a 2014 proxy vote. The vote was nonbinding, but Chipotle subsequently adjusted its compensation formulas, focusing in particular on deferred payment forms such as stock incentives.

The plummet in sales and traffic following the disclosure of E.coli contaminations at Chipotle restaurants in Washington and Oregon triggered the steep decline in performance-related pay for 2015. Same-store sales for the fourth quarter of the year dropped 14.6 percent, and the fall-off accelerated as more contaminations came to light in early 2016.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Restaurants bring the industry's concerns to Congress

Neary 600 operators made their case to lawmakers as part of the National Restaurant Association’s Public Affairs Conference.


Podcast transcript: Virtual Dining Brands co-founder Robbie Earl

A Deeper Dive: What is the future of digital-only concepts? Earl discusses their work to ensure quality and why focusing on restaurant delivery works.


In the fast-casual sector, Chipotle laps Panera Bread

The Bottom Line: The two fast-casual restaurant pioneers have diverged over the past five years, as the burrito chain has thrived while Panera hit a wall. Here's why.


More from our partners