Chipotle tweaked its queso after customers called it 'dumpster juice' — and now it's suddenly driving up sales

Hollis JohnsonChipotle’s queso was initially slammed as a ‘crime against cheese.’

  • Chipotle reported a 3.3% increase in same-store sales during its most recent quarter, citing menu price increases and demand for queso as the main reasons for growth.
  • The cheese dish made its national debut in September.Customers initially slammed the dip as a “crime against cheese,” “expired Velveeta,” and “dumpster juice.”
  • Since then, Chipotle has been working to adjust the recipe.

In an unexpected twist, Chipotle’s queso – a new menu item customers had originally slammed as “expired Velveeta” – is now an unlikely hero for the burrito chain.

On Thursday, Chipotle reported a 3.3% increase in same-store sales during its most recent quarter, citing a 4% menu price increase and increased demand for queso as the main reasons for growth.

“The price increase has passed nicely and we are not seeing customer counts retreat,” CEO Brian Niccol said in a call with investors on Thursday.

Niccol added that queso was responsible for a 2% boost in customers’ average check at Chipotle in the last quarter.

Chipotle’s queso made its national debut in September, after years of customers begging the chain to add it to the menu. It didn’t go quite as planned. Some customers initially criticised the dip as a “crime against cheese” and “dumpster juice.”

The chain adjusted its recipe in late November to address these complaints, especially those related to the original queso’s grainy, chowder-like texture.

In May, Niccol told Business Insider that the company was continuing to fine-tune the queso recipe.

“The feedback we’ve gotten on queso is that there’s still some opportunity to improve,” he said.

Despite this, he had high hopes for the dish.

“I can’t wait for the day that people are – just like they’re asking about free guac – they will be asking about free queso,” he said.

Roughly 40% of Chipotle customers order guacamole with their meal.

For that to happen, Chipotle needs to get the recipe “dialed in and improved from where it is today,” he added.

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