Chipotle looking to bring home the bacon — and nachos — with test runs — The Know

Home / Chipotle looking to bring home the bacon — and nachos — with test runs — The Know

Patrons of Chipotle line up for lunch at the chain’s 1600 California location on Jan. 6, 2015. The restaurant is testing out bacon on its menu. (Denver Post file)

Bacon may soon join barbacoa and carnitas as an offering available at Chipotle Mexican Grill if a test run in southern California next month proves successful, the Denver-based fast casual restaurant chain said Thursday.

Consumers had a positive response to bowls prepared with applewood smoked bacon at the company’s test kitchen in New York City. It will offer a bacon option at eight restaurants in Orange County next month. If that goes well, Chipotle will roll out a bacon as an option nationally.

“Consumers have always said, ‘Everything tastes better with bacon,’ and that is exactly what we confirmed in our New York test kitchen,” Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer at Chipotle, said in a release. “We found consumers added bacon to their traditional bowls, burritos, tacos and nachos while also enjoying new items such as the BLT quesadilla with bacon, lettuce, tomato and cheese grilled to perfection.”

Chipotle also said its new build-your-own nachos, after a successful 10-restaurant test, will be made available in Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul in October. The nachos include the company’s corn tortilla chips and a new queso and can be customized with a choice of meat, beans, salsa and lettuce.

The company is also testing a $2 tacos menu item, which is available with the purchase of any drink after 8 p.m. at locations in Miami and Dallas. Those participating restaurants are open until 11 p.m.

“A cornerstone of our new strategy is to make Chipotle more culturally relevant and to meet our customers where they are with flavorful food they can feel good about eating,” Brandt said.

Chipotle has struggled to win back customers after a severe food contamination outbreak in 2015. That outbreak contributed to the eventual ouster of founder and CEO Steve Ells, who was replaced at the start of the year by Brian Niccol, a former CEO at Taco Bell.

Niccol is implementing some of the changes that he rolled out to boost sales at Taco Bell. He is also moving the headquarters from Denver to Newport Beach, Calif., to help change the culture.

But food-quality problems resurfaced again in late July when 600 customers of a restaurant in Powell, Ohio, were sickened.

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