McDonald’s was a major contributor to Chipotle’s success.
The burger chain made an investment in Chipotle in 1998 that helped it grow from 14 locations to nearly 500 within seven years.
But the companies had a lot of clashes along the way, Bloomberg reports.
Specifically, McDonald’s had a lot of suggestions for changes to Chipotle’s business strategy that Chipotle rejected.
Here are some of the suggestions:
1. McDonald’s wanted Chipotle to add drive-thrus to its restaurants and to start serving breakfast.
“Bless their hearts, McDonald’s had a lot of great suggestions, and we were always polite about it,” Chipotle chief operations officer Gretchen Selfridge told Bloomberg. “They really wanted us to do drive-thrus. They really wanted us to do breakfast. But we just really didn’t do any of that.”
2. McDonald’s asked Chipotle to change its name to Chipotle Fresh Mexican Grill.
“One of the McDonald’s guys thought we should call it ‘Chipotle Fresh Mexican Grill,’ because the term ‘fresh’ was such a great term, and Baja Fresh had ‘fresh’ in its name,” Chipotle co-CEO Monty Moran told Bloomberg. “And I remember Steve had a very non-tactful, politically incorrect response: ‘Well, that’s a bunch of you-know-what. Why would we do that? It doesn’t make any sense.'”
3. When Chipotle opened restaurants in new locations, McDonald’s advised that the burrito chain change its menu to cater to local tastes.
The burger chain said Chipotle should put barbecue in the burritos in Kansas City and add green chiles to the menu in New Mexico, according to the report.
McDonald’s also forced Chipotle to franchise some of its restaurants, which it did reluctantly.
4. McDonald’s censored Chipotle’s advertising once.
Chipotle had an ad showing a foil-wrapped burrito that said, “Usually when you roll something this good it’s illegal.”
McDonald’s asked Chipotle to pull the ad and Chipotle complied.
Summing up the companies’ relationship, Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold told Bloomberg, “I would think of it in terms of McDonald’s being the rich uncle and Chipotle as the petulant nephew where we take the money and are grateful but are stubborn and strong-willed enough that we’re going to do what we want with it anyway.”
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