Emerging Brands

Chipotle officially kills Farmesa as potential second concept

The healthful bowl menu was tested, but CEO Brian Niccol said the company is focused on growing Chipotle into an iconic brand.
The digital-ordering-only brand Farmesa was in a Kitchen United Mix location that has since closed. | Photo courtesy of Lisa Jennings

Chipotle’s potential secondary concept Farmesa Fresh Eatery is officially no more.

Chair and CEO Brian Niccol said Wednesday that the chain is no longer considering a second concept, at least for now. Instead, the company is focused on growing Chipotle into an iconic brand, not only in the U.S. but internationally.

“I never want to say never, but it’s just not a focus,” said Niccol, when asked about the idea of a second concept. “We’ve got so much opportunity in front of us.”

Chipotle last year tested a concept called Farmesa, which was a digital delivery-and-takeout outlet in a Kitchen United Mix in Santa Monica, Calif., which has since closed.

After testing Farmesa for a few months with a menu of healthful made-to-order bowls developed by James Beard Award-winning chef Nate Appleman, the outlet closed. At the time, company officials said the test was moved to the chain’s Cultivate Center in Irvine, Calif.

Now it looks like Farmesa didn’t pass the test.

In an email on Thursday, a company spokesperson said key learnings from the concept will be incorporated into future culinary innovation at Chipotle.

Farmesa now joins a string of attempted secondary concepts by the company, which previously attempted the ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen brand. That concept grew to 15 units before all were shuttered in 2017.

Chipotle also tested a burger concept called Tasty Made that never moved beyond one short-lived unit. And the company had invested in the Pizzeria Locale concept in Colorado, but has since divested.

Meanwhile, Chipotle reported a 5.4% increase in traffic during the first quarter, and Niccol is turning his attention to international growth, as the chain chugs toward reaching 7,000 units in North America.

“I want to be as opportunistic as possible and bring Chipotle in an external environment where change might present other opportunities,” he said. “Maybe we consider [a secondary concept] but it’s not part of our growth strategy right now.”

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