Chipotle Chief Development Officer Tabassum Zalotrawala has stepped down

After helping the fast-casual chain open more than 750 restaurants, Zalotrawala said she is preparing for a new adventure.
The 500th Chipotlane opened in November 2022 in Louisville, Ky. / Photo courtesy of Tim Furlong Jr.

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.

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


The case for the (mostly) digital restaurant

Tech Check: Digitizing 100% of orders has become a North Star for some brands. But 90% might be the wiser goal.


Older brands try new tricks in their quest to stay relevant

Reality Check: A number of mature restaurant chains are out to prove that age is just a number.


At Papa Johns, delivery shifts from its own apps to aggregators

The Bottom Line: The pizza delivery chain’s business with companies like Uber Eats and DoorDash is thriving while its own delivery is slowing. But this isn’t the beginning of the end of self-delivery, CEO Rob Lynch says.


More from our partners