The manager hired to run Chipotle’s second location in 1995 is now the chain’s top female executive.
Gretchen Selfridge tells Fortune that she almost turned down the opportunity to manage the Denver restaurant.
“Back in 1990s, there wasn’t this category of restaurants. You had fast food and you had full service,” Selfridge tells Caroline Fairchild at Fortune. “I was working at a full-service restaurant. I didn’t want to go work at something like a Taco Bell. I sort of turned my nose down on the opportunity.”
After a meeting with Chipotle founder Steve Ells, Selfridge was convinced that the restaurant concept was something special.
Today, Selfridge is chief operations officer and runs 850 of the chain’s restaurants.
She says that her experience managing a Chipotle restaurant has been invaluable to her executive role.
“When you wear a lot of hats, you tend to figure things out,” she said. “People come to you because you are a resource and you understand how to do things.”
Chipotle prides itself for promoting employees from within.
Last year, CBS interviewed Lidia Castillo, a 22-year-old woman who worked her way up from an entry-level position to manager, general manager, and restaurateur.
A Chipotle executive said that position, which is like a senior manager, pays about $US99,000.
“I get a bonus, I get a company car, and if I help somebody else become a general manager, I get $US10,000,” Castillo added.
The company says this management practice helps it retain the best employees.
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