The fact is that Chipotle remains shorthand for "remarkable success" in a segment of the restaurant industry that is growing at a dizzying pace, despite the tumultuous economic conditions of the past few years. In 2010, according to a report by Chicago food industry research firm Technomic, the top 100 fast casual chains increased sales 6% in 2010 to $18.9 billion. While that may not seem like a big jump, remember that during the same period most other players in the restaurant world were flat or watching sales crater.
Smartbrief for Restaurants - 2013
"Paul is a true visionary. He understands where the restaurant industry is moving in the way that Steve Jobs understood where the personal technology industry was moving. I am in awe of Paul's work and consider him to be a key business and vision mentor."
~ Noah Glass, Founder, OLO.com
"Paul is an incredible visionary in the communications industry and in the world of branding. While he is grounded in the here and now he can see emerging trends, as evidenced by his early identification of the fast casual segment and the subsequent development of the Fast Casual Alliance. He is uniquely adept at partnering with industry and concept leaders to identify and share these trends."
~ Ed Frechette, Sr. VP, Au Bon Pain
"Working with Paul gave me an honorary MBA in new media. I learned more in my year working with Paul about Web 2.0 and how it interacts with marketing than I could ever learn at any university. His knowledge of new media, and more importantly, how it can be used to market products and services surpasses anything I've learned reading on the Internet."
~ Barry Lauterwasser, Founder, Symbion Marketing
From the Inside Flap
In 1999, Ells opened his first restaurants outside of Colorado, but it was interest from McDonald's Corporation that was the magic bullet for the company's growth. The fast-food titan first approached Ells in 1997 and became a minority investor a year later. Contrary to popular belief, McDonald's did not buy Chipotle but did become its largest investor, sinking more than $360 million into the chain over seven years and helping Chipotle make use of its proven distribution system. By 2005 the chain had more than 500 company-owned restaurants, and in January of 2006 it made its initial public stock offering (IPO), the stock doubling in value on the first day of trading.