Warren Buffett likes to say ‘only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked.’ Our friends at Chipotle clearly never thought the ‘food safety tide’ could go out. Food Safety was the pedestrian problem of mundane brands like McDonald's and other chain restaurants. Now, recent reports of foodborne illness led to a Chipotle restaurant in Virginia temporarily closing in July, calling back to Chipotle illness outbreaks in 2015.
Chipotle’s CEO Steve Ells had more important issues to address, from hyping organics and antibiotic use, to GMO practices, slaughter house standards, and how far chickens could be from each other. We applaud Steve for bringing up these social issues, even if Chipotle's actual practices were far below the standards he was espousing.
He wanted to expose the ‘big industrial food complex’ to all who were willing to go on his fanciful neurotic narrative. A simple look at Chipotle's ‘The Scarecrow’ video shows the disturbing, dark interpretation of how Steve views the rest of the restaurant world. (‘The Scarecrow’ is a companion film for a 2013 app-based game about a quest for wholesome, sustainable food.) These videos were brought to you by Steve's marketing vice president, who was busted for seven counts of cocaine possession. Please forgive us mere mortals in the restaurant industry for enjoying his downfall. The hypocrisy of portraying those of us at McDonald's and what was actually going on at Chipotle is rich indeed. The irony that McDonald's once owned Chipotle is not lost on Steve. It clearly burns him to this day.
Steve came up with a fantastic burrito, delivered and packaged in a terrific concept. Chipotle has a bright future. Its founder does not (at least not in his current job.) Steve admits Chipotle was just an effort to fund the high-end restaurant he wanted to build with his CIA training. He will soon have the opportunity to do so.
When he exits be sure to buy the stock. It won't make you sick.