Chipotle's not just making burritos; for a couple of years now, it's also been serving Asian-inspired meals with sustainable ingredients under the Washington DC-based concept known as ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen, and at this past week's Cultivate Festival, Chipotle offered San Franciscans a taste. The concept, which currently has one location only, offers build-your-own bowls with a variety of elements, from noodles and rice to stir-fried vegetables and crushed peanuts. To learn more about the ShopHouse philosophy, expansion plans, and our tasting notes, keep reading.
Last week, the quick-service industry was buzzing with speculation about In-N-Out Burger: based on the comments of at least one insider, In-N-Out may finally be expanding to the Southwestern part of the country.
Regardless of what the California burger chain has in store, it's undeniable that there's plenty of growth in fast-casual chains right now. While traditional fast-food companies like Burger King are struggling, a number of smaller, newer chains are blowing up across the country. Here are a five eateries to watch out for.
The chicken chorizo, which the company describes as being made with "naturally raised pork and chicken sausage with herbs and spices," is currently available at most New York locations, and will roll out to select stores in Denver in about a week. Should the option become available nationwide, it would be the first new protein rolled out in years.
Chorizo always has been a popular Mexican breakfast item, so it'll be interesting to see how well it fares at a lunchtime favorite like Chipotle. Does chorizo sound like it has enough promise to go nationwide?
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The decor, which might include coffee tables, lounge chairs, bookshelves, and a fireplace, mimics the cozy coffeehouse ambiance of — you guessed it — a McCafé or a Starbucks. In addition to his aggressive growth strategy of opening 2,000 new North American locations in 2011, President Fred DeLuca will also add about 10 more Subway Cafés to the franchise's current roster of 15 by the end of this year.
What do you think of the concept? Will tonier seating arrangements make you want to eat at Subway more often?
Looks like Chipotle has seen the light. Yesterday, the fast-casual Mexican chain announced plans to install solar paneling on 75 of its locations in the next year. The move will make the company the largest direct producer of solar energy in the restaurant industry to date. Chipotle wants to reduce energy consumption during its peak hours of 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., when the energy grid experiences the highest level of demand. With solar panels, it could eliminate as much as 41 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.
The Mexican fast-casual chain has partnered with Standard Renewable Energy to begin installing panels on restaurants in Denver, Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio. Along with the company's desire to educate diners about food sustainability and use environmentally conscious building materials, this move is yet another case for why customers should support the brand. But let's be honest: the best reason to hit up Chipotle is still for its insanely good burritos. Are you impressed that the company is making more socially conscious strides?
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Could Subway be the world's new McDonald's? It sure looks that way. In the next few months, it will become the world's largest food chain. Although McDonald's has a total of 32,158 eateries worldwide, it has largely curtailed expansion efforts, preferring to hone in on existing store sales. Subway, on the other hand, has been multiplying exponentially, with outposts in China, Qatar, India, and France. This week, it's expected to exceed 31,800 total stores.
At a time when restaurants and fast-food establishments are struggling, Subway turned a profit in the last year with its its $5 foot-long sandwich promotion. Yet in overall sales, McDonald's remains untouched. According to industry experts, the average US McDonald's generates $2.3 million in sales, compared to $445,000 for Subway. I'm surprised — I had no idea that Subway was so ubiquitous in other parts of the world. What about you? Would you rather patronize a Subway or a McDonald's?
Source: Flickr User zyphbear