When Chipotle opened its first store in 1993, the idea was simple: demonstrate that food served fast didn't have to be a "fast-food" experience. We use high-quality raw ingredients, classic cooking methods and a distinctive interior design, and have friendly people to take care of each customer—features that are more frequently found in the world of fine dining. When we opened, there wasn't an industry category to describe what we were doing. Some 21 years and more than 1,600 restaurants later, we compete in a category of dining now called "fast-casual," the fastest growing segment of the restaurant industry, where customers expect food quality that's more in line with full-service restaurants, coupled with the speed and convenience of fast food.
We try to do a few things really well. We elevate basic raw ingredients into food that's richer and more sophisticated through our recipes and cooking techniques. Similarly, our restaurant design transforms simple materials in distinctive ways, giving our restaurants a style that's more architectural in nature.
Our focus has always been on using the kinds of higher-quality ingredients and cooking techniques used in high-end restaurants to make great food accessible at reasonable prices. But our vision has evolved. While using a variety of fresh ingredients remains the foundation of our menu, we believe that "fresh is not enough, anymore." Now we want to know where all of our ingredients come from, so that we can be sure they are as flavorful as possible while understanding the environmental and societal impact of our business. We call this idea Food With Integrity, and it guides how we run our business.