Chipotle was founded in 1993 by Steve Ells. Their first location was a former Dolly Madison ice cream location. The second and third locations were added in 1995. An additional five Denver stores were added the following year.
In 1998, with 16 locations in Colorado, Chipotle sought outside investors to scale the business more quickly. The largest investor was McDonalds. The first stores outside Colorado were opened in Columbus, OH and Minneapolis, MN the following year. The company continued to expand and eventually went public (IPO) in 2006.
In January 2015, the company pulled Carnitas from its menu in 1/3 of their locations, citing animal welfare issues with a pork supplier. The company used “rolling blackouts” in which the stores without pork were rotated until finally resolving the issue in the fall of 2015.
In October 2015, over 40 people were confirmed sick after eating at Chipotle locations in Washington and Oregon. 12 needed to be hospitalized. The cause was discovered to be E. Coli. The company was forced to close 43 stores as a precaution. The CDC announced that the company could reopen all locations in February 2016.
As of late 2015, Chipotle currently has over 2,010 locations in 43 states. International locations include Ontario, London and Paris. The company had $4.5 billion in sales in 2015.
Due to the coronavirus, the company began opening new locations with drive-thru service in 2020.
Chipotle’s corporate office and headquarters is located in Denver, Colorado.