Chipotle Mexican Grill’s chief development officer, Tabassum Zalotrawala, has stepped down after more than four years leading the fast-casual chain’s growth.
In a LinkedIn post on Sunday, Zalotrawala said she is embarking on a new adventure, but she did not say where she is going. Chipotle officials did not disclose more details, or a possible replacement.
The move comes at a time when the 3,187-unit chain is gunning to reach 7,000 units across North America, though the company has given no timeline for that goal. During her 4.5 years heading the development team, Zalotrawala has helped Chipotle add more than 750 restaurants, which amounts to net unit growth of 33%.
She also helped solidify Chipotle’s drive-thru strategy. About 550 of those 750 restaurants were Chipotlane units. This year, about 80% of the 255 to 285 expected to open will have drive-thrus, including 10 to 15 existing restaurants that will be relocated to become a Chipotlane location.
And Zalotrawala helped architect the development of new restaurant formats at Chipotle, such as the two Digital Kitchen units, which do not have a customer-facing makeline or dining rooms. More digital-order-only units are planned for the Washington, D.C., area and Southern California, she said in a recent interview.
Though the new formats offer “a menu of venues” to bring the brand to a variety of trade areas, Zalotrawala also said traditional full-service Chipotlanes will remain the brand’s “bread and butter” for growth.
Before joining Chipotle in 2018, Zalotrawala served as chief development officer and vice president, design, construction, facilities and strategic sourcing at Panda Restaurant Group. She also held roles previously at Arby’s Restaurant Group, first as a franchisee and later focusing on store development and franchise support.
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