Friday, February 28, 2014

Chipotle is the Future of the American Economy

I love Chipotle.

Seriously, who among us, who has tasted Steve Ells' brilliant creation, doesn't love the carnitas or the barbacoa or any variation of the Chipotle burrito. Things like burritos and tacos have always been the perfect food for me. All food groups represented, delicious and easy, and, oh, so filling. However, Chipotle may be so much more than just a burrito. Slate's Matthew Yglesias wonders if Chipotle might be the future of the American economy.

While Yglesias is arguing that the low skill service work can't be as easily replaced as an accountant, I am more interested in looking at Chipotle as an incredibly well-run company that refused to accept low quality as a by-product of affordable. Like Robert Irvine on the Food Network's Restaurant Impossible, Steve Ells can teach many people about the importance of high quality. When Ells first opened his burrito shop, he intended to simply use it to quickly raise cash to finance his dream of a top tier restaurant. As a unexpected result, he ended up sticking with his business model that changed the nature of fast food. In fact, he may be the pioneer of what is now known as fast casual, the defining characteristic is affordable, high quality fare.

Some people may worry that the future of the economy is fast food, even fast casual. However, if it's the work of visionaries like Steve Ells and Chipotle, that future may be brighter than we think.

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