Why it's time to get excited about Chipotle's Asian concept restaurant

Good news for Chipotle-loving Chicagoans: The company’s Asian concept will be opening up in the Windy City this fall.

ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen will open its first two locations in the city on November 13 and December 8, reports Chicagoist.

ShopHouse uses a Chipotle-inspired model of mix-and-matching a standardised formula, but with a Vietnamese and Thai twist. Instead of asking for a burrito, bowl, salad or tacos, at ShopHouse customers choose from jasmine or brown rice, chilled rice noodles, or salad. Then, Chipotle-style, they add meats such as chilled chicken satay and grilled steak laab, vegetables, sauces, garnishes, and toppings.

Chicago will be the third city with a ShopHouse presence. The chain currently has 11 locations in Washington, DC, and Los Angeles.

While 11 restaurants doesn’t sound like much, Chipotle execs say that they’re following the same gameplan with ShopHouse that made Chipotle a 1,700-location powerhouse.

“When we open up a new restaurant, it behaves a lot like Chipotle 12 years, 15 years ago, when we went into a new market where it’s an unfamiliar brand. It takes a while for customers to figure out what ShopHouse is,” Chipotle’s CFO John Hartung said in the company’s third quarter earnings call earlier in October. “We’re seeing some very strong comps in the markets that we’ve opened.”

The company says that it plans to continue to build the brand and raise customer awareness so that, in the future, it can potentially aggressively accelerate growth.

Customers seem to be responding pretty positively to the brand so far online. In both Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., Yelp reviewers tend to rate the restaurants anĀ average of 3.5 stars.

“In the working world we all need a quick go-to lunch spot for the days where we DGAF about making lunch, and this is mine!” reads a four star review of one Washington, D.C. location. “ShopHouse is quick, convenient, and yummy!! $US7.25 with tax for a chicken satay bowl? Alright… my wallet is IN. Only downside is if you get here by 12:15pm, you’ll be in a line that touches the door.”

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