- Chipotle is now serving new items including a chocolate milkshake, avocado tostadas, and quesadillas in its New York City test kitchen.
- The tests represent a new strategy for the chain, which long resisted adding new menu items.
Chipotle is rolling out a new batch of menu items at a New York City test location as the chain enters a new era.
The burrito chain announced on Thursday that it is adding new items to its test kitchen menu, including quesadillas, avocado tostadas (which an executive called Chipotle’s take on avocado toast), and a chocolate milkshake.
Executives also said that the chain is moving closer to making nachos – which were introduced as a test item last November – available nationally.
The onslaught of test items represents a shift in strategy for Chipotle. The chain has long resisted adding new menu items, in contrast to the larger fast-food industry’s reliance on limited-time and new items to drive traffic. Now, as the company tries to recover from an E. coli scandal from more than two years ago, Chipotle seems to be coming around to a strategy used by Taco Bell.
“There will be a lot more fun stuff coming out,” Chipotle’s research and development chef, Chad Blauze, told Business Insider.
“We have a whole repertoire coming out in 2018 and 2019,” Blauze continued, saying that the chain has also been exploring new dessert options.
Chipotle’s chief marketing officer, Chris Brandt, said on Thursday that the chain will look for three qualifications when crafting new menu items: if they’re in demand (such as nachos), if they were something customers used to like that has been removed from the menu (like chorizo, which is not currently on the test menu), and if they’re like nothing else in the industry (such as the avocado tostada).
With items such as the tostada and the milkshake, Chipotle is entering unfamiliar territory.
The tostada, which will be priced at slightly over $US3 at the Manhattan location, is more of a snack than a meal. It’s a departure from Chipotle’s assembly-line meal preparation that is geared toward burritos, tacos, and bowls. And, the idea of Chipotle serving a milkshake is something that few would expect from a chain that has worked exceedingly hard to elevate itself from fast-food rivals.
Still, don’t expect Chipotle to go full fast food any time soon.
“I didn’t want it to be McDonald’s, I didn’t want it to be the Frosty. I wanted it to be ours,” Brauze said of the slightly spicy milkshake, which contains hints of cardamon and chipotle chilli.
Chipotle is undergoing a period of intense change, with a number of executives leaving the chain, and Brian Niccol, previously CEO of Taco Bell, stepping into the role of Chipotle’s CEO in March. Taco Bell experienced a period of impressive growth under Niccol’s leadership, as the CEO pushed for more creative marketing and wild new menu items such as the Naked Chicken Chalupa.
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