On October 24th, Chipotle Mexican Grill closed 43 of its locations due to an E. coli outbreak in Washington and Oregon State, which infected 35 patrons of the popular fast food chain. Although the cause of the outbreak is still unknown. Chipotle reopened those locations.
Chipotle has become one of America’s newest fastest growing restaurant chains in recent years. According to QSR magazine, sales jumped 25.5 percent from 2003 to 2013, making it the decade’s fastest growing chain.
However, due to the recent E Coli outbreak red-hot sales have been “growing cold” because of the looming fear of contracting the deadly bacterial disease.
“The effects of these recent events on the western coast of the U.S. has sent a ripple effect to that has made its way to the east coast,” said Casim King, 22 about the recent outbreak. King is an employee of a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant located on 14th Street in the first ward of Washington D.C.
Sara Cooper, 21, who is one of the store managers said, “since the outbreak, business has taken around a 10% dive because even though that happened somewhere else people don’t want to gamble with their health over a meal.”
“You can’t spell Chipotle without E. coli,” said The Center of Consumer Freedom who are critics of the restaurant chain, because of the higher calorie counts of their meals.
“Chipotle has been on top of the fast food industry for the last five years and this outbreak threatens that position,” said Cooper. “The restaurant went from constantly packed to almost always empty”. That’s saying plenty considering how popular Chipotle is in the district.
According to Bloomberg Business, “one location seeing particularly strong growth is Washington D.C., according to analysts at JPMorgan. In 2005, JPMorgan estimates that Chipotle had around 10 locations per million D.C. residents, and by 2014 had grown to just over 30 locations.”
Because D.C. is a popular location for the company, a lack or drop in business activity here could potentially signify a recessionary period for the company. A blemish on the otherwise spotless face of the consumer favorite.
An article posted recently on Bloomberg Business confirms exactly that, claiming that its biggest strength, the promise of fresh food, has now turned into its greatest weakness or liability. As a result of the E. Coli outbreak both sales and stock prices have fallen to an all time low.
With the victim toll rising to 52 people in 9 different states one has the right to be suspicious of the once favorite restaurant.