Steve Ells, the founder of the Denver based Chipotle chain is stepping down as the company’s CEO. Ells graduated from the Culinary Institute of America with big plans. Based on his belief that “fresh, high-quality raw ingredients, prepared using classic cooking methods” should not just be relevant for high-end restaurants, Ells began the fast-food, build-your-own restaurant.
As more assembly line restaurants from pizza to Greek food become more popular, getting Mexican to go is not that exciting anymore. Also adding to decreased sales is the company’s issue with links to food-borne illnesses, which started in 2015. Executives claim that 2016 was “the most challenging year in our history.” Despite an an early and steady rise due to an investment by McDonald’s, the company has struggled for the last few years.
“I am incredibly proud of Chipotle and our people – and grateful to our loyal customers – and while we are continuing to make progress, it is clear that we need to move faster to make improvements,” said Ells in a statement. “Simply put, we need to execute better to ensure our future success.”
Ells is the second executive to leave his position, following co-CEO Monty Moran last year. Ells believes a new CEO would be a fresh start that the company needs and that it would be “the right thing to do for all our stakeholders”. He said he would now be able to “focus on my strengths, which include bringing innovation to the way we source and prepare our food.”
Ells continued, “As we work hard to restore our brand, I believe we can capitalize on opportunities, including in areas such as the digital experience, menu innovation, delivery, catering, and domestic and international expansion, to deliver significant growth.”
Maybe they should start saying, “Guac is free.”