Anyone who has ever eaten at Chipotle can agree on two things.
The food is delicious, and it is also expensive.
While it may not stop you from enjoying your favorite fast-food restaurant, you may wonder why Chipotle is so expensive.
This article will give you some insight into why you are paying more when you eat at Chipotle than most other fast-food joints.
Why Is Chipotle So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. Eco-Friendly Philosophy
Chipotle restaurants support a sustainable business model and are environmentally conscious.
From their buildings to their uniforms to their food, they always look for ways to make the world a better place.
Chipotle has been recognized as the largest producer of direct solar energy in the restaurant industry.
Since 2009, they have had solar panels in many of their restaurants, allowing them to produce 500 kilowatts of energy that is renewable.
Each of their employees wears a uniform and hat that is composed of 100 percent organic cotton.
Organic cotton does not use harmful chemicals during growing.
When harmful chemicals are not used for cotton, they do not leach into the air, water, and soil.
This keeps the environment free from contaminants.
2. Naturally Raised Meat
Chipotle has created the philosophy of food with integrity.
That means all of their ingredients are organic, free of antibiotics, and non-GMO.
They have committed themselves to only serving meat that is naturally raised.
Their meat is from animals that have only been fed an organic diet and raised in humane ways.
The CEO of Chipotle is an activist committed to anti-factory farming.
They carry this concept of farming in responsible ways throughout their entire organization, and it is ingrained in their culture.
They will only source their food from farmers and ranchers who follow these methods.
This means a hefty price tag is associated with their food procurement.
We all know that feed for animals can be acquired in an inexpensive way, but it is subpar.
Healthy, organic, antibiotic-free-feed for animals is expensive.
Humane care for farm animals is also expensive.
It is sad to say, but it is true.
When costs are cut, it directly impacts the food and care of the animals that eventually become food.
Chipotle does not compromise on quality, but there is a price tag associated with it.
3. Fresh Ingredients
Every ingredient served at Chipotle is organic and fresh.
The commitment they make to using only the highest quality meat is one they make for all of their ingredients.
Chipotle makes sure that no pesticides are used on their vegetables.
Chipotle is concerned about the quality of its ingredients.
Only the best will do, and they will not compromise.
That lack of compromise on their ingredients comes at a price.
That price is absorbed into the cost of the food at their restaurants.
Their customers benefit greatly from the purity of their ingredients, but they also pay the price for it.
This price makes them the most expensive fast-food restaurant.
Their motto of food with integrity is a belief they carry through to all ingredients.
Not only do they source organic ingredients, but they also source local ones whenever possible.
All ingredients are made by hand.
This means it takes additional time to prepare the food.
As we all know, time is money.
When they spend more time preparing your food, you are going to spend more money on it.
They use only the best vegetables, including avocados.
They are known for their guacamole, and they always make sure it tastes fresh and delicious.
One way they do this is to use only the best avocados, which are already one of the more expensive vegetables.
These vegetables grow based solely on the weather.
If the weather conditions are not right, you will not be able to find quality avocados.
This makes them expensive, and that cost is passed right on to the customer.
Chipotle has limited menu items to make getting the ingredients easier, but this may also cause an increase in price for you.
4. Employee Benefits
Chipotle takes care of its employees.
They have created programs within the organization to help their employees advance within the company.
This opportunity is called their Restauranteur program.
It is a lengthy and rigorous process, but it offers its employees a salary of about $100,000 annually.
Chipotle offers benefits to all members of their organization, even the crew, who are the individuals you find chopping vegetables in the back.
They are usually lower-paid employees but are still offered benefits.
These benefits include medical insurance, paid vacation, bonuses, free meals, tuition reimbursement, and discounts for clothing.
It is great to be an employee of Chipotle because they are cared for by their employer.
This care is shown in pay and benefits.
The cost is paid by the customer.
Any time an organization takes really good care of its employees, the customer pays the price.
It is certainly a price worth paying, but it does add to the cost of your favorite burrito.
5. Food Preparation and Portion Size
When you are a fan of Chipotle and visit it often, there is no doubt you have noticed the price of guacamole.
It is expensive.
There is also no doubt that you have noticed how delicious it is, too.
Most likely, you enjoy the taste so much; you do not mind paying the price for it.
When you want something that is high quality, you should expect to pay a premium for it.
Chipotle does not mess around when it comes to its guacamole.
They use only Haas avocados, which are the best ones you can find.
The entire process of making guacamole is done by hand, and it takes close to an hour for one batch of guacamole to be made.
You know it is quality, and if you think about the fact that you are paying a couple of dollars for food that took an hour to make, you may not mind the price as much.
Their guacamole cannot be copied.
You may think you are going to be able to recreate it at home, but you will not be able to.
It just is not going to taste the same for you.
There are some tricks that their employees use while making their guacamole which is to let the salt, lime, and onions sit together for a few minutes to let the flavors mix.
Another trick is to add the cilantro after the avocado is mashed.
You do not want to mash the cilantro.
The portion size at Chipotle is on the larger side.
This also comes with a higher price.
That is something to keep in mind.
While you a paying more money for your food, you are also getting a larger portion than you will get at other fast-food restaurants.
6. Employee Training
Chipotle knows one of its secrets to success is quality ingredients.
They also know the other secret to their success is their employees.
We all know that the employees can make or break a fast-food restaurant.
If you have employees who are not friendly, your customers will not come back.
If your employees do not provide consistency in the food, the customers will not come back.
Customers expect to have the same experience and the same taste to their food every time they come in.
That is one of the draws of fast food.
The food is fast and consistent every single time.
Chipotle spends the necessary time to train its employees.
Employees have an entire day of training to learn how to make a burrito.
They do this because consistency is critical.
Chipotle wants to make sure its employees know what they are doing and that they get it right every time.
There is one large downside to this training process.
That is, all the food that the employees train on is thrown out at the end of the process.
They basically are throwing out an entire day’s worth of food because it has been handled and probably thrown around a bit.
7. Cost of Delivery
We all have spent way too much time dealing with a pandemic that has kept us inside and away from people.
Some interesting developments have come out of this time.
Food delivery has been at an all-time high because it is one way restaurants and businesses dealing with food have managed to stay afloat.
The addition of delivery has caused an increase in spending for most restaurants that were not set up for delivery prior to the start of the pandemic.
All restaurants have had to increase and upgrade their cleaning procedures and supplies, which has also added cost to the business. You know what happened.
Those costs are passed directly to the customers ordering food for delivery.
Not only are customers tipping the delivery person that brought their food, but they are also paying a delivery fee.
Often, there is also a service fee.
Customers of fast-food restaurants having food delivered are paying three additional fees for the service.
In addition to that, many restaurants, including Chipotle, have increased the price of their food for delivery.
Not only do you pay a higher cost already for Chipotle food, but you are going to pay even more for your burrito to have it delivered.
The percentage of the increase varies from city to city.
Larger cities, like New York City, have had a high price increase than other cities and towns.
8. Substantial Lawsuits
Chipotle has faced a fair amount of scrutiny over the past few years.
They have had their share of lawsuits and food recalls.
All of this costs money for Chipotle and means an increase in the price you pay.
Chipotle is known for its sparse design but the cool vibe in their restaurants.
It turns out their cool look is not accessible to everyone.
Some who could not see over the counter sued Chiptole for violating the rights of disabled individuals.
Chipotle spent a lot of time, energy, and money fighting this one through the court system.
They ultimately made design changes to their restaurants to be more inclusive.
The money they spent defending themselves in court and the design changes they made were passed right along to their customer in price increases.
Chipotle has had to do a fair amount of damage control from various lawsuits and food recalls due to customers getting sick.
These lawsuits cause a loss of revenue as well as the money put out for lawyers and public relations.
9. Coin Shortage
The pandemic has been interesting in so many ways.
We have been through a lot, learned a lot, and have seen some interesting turn of events.
Things have happened that no one could have predicted.
No one could have foreseen that people would stop spending cash, and therefore, there would be a coin shortage.
That is precisely what happened.
As a result, some restaurants stopped accepting cash, or they would only take exact change.
Many businesses put up signs alerting their customers of this practice.
Chiptole did something similar but never bothered to advertise it to their customer.
They just stopped giving change to people.
They would give the paper change, but not coins.
For example, if a customer were supposed to get $10.30 in change, they would only receive $10.
Some people noticed, and others did not.
Some people cared, and others did not.
Regardless of whether or not it mattered to you, it caused an increase in how much you just paid for your burrito.
Some specific store managers were taking it upon themselves to use this as a business practice.
Some said it was a directive from the top of Chipotle.
Either way, it is causing there to be an increase in the amount you pay.
10. Secret Menu
Chipotle has a secret menu that is not official.
There are five items on this menu.
They include nachos, quesadilla, a Burritodilla, a quesarrito, and double decker tacos.
It would seem like a special menu should not really raise the price since it is making use of ingredients already offered by Chipotle.
It is true that this secret menu does not add any new ingredients to the lineup at Chipotle.
However, these menu items are time-consuming to make.
If you hit Chipotle at a busy time, you may find that the employees are not excited to make your special secret menu item.
How Can I Save Money at Chipotle?
Before you get too upset about the cost of Chipotle, there are a few ways that you can save money when eating your favorite meal.
Chipotle has a rewards program that gives you free chips and guacamole when you make your first order.
Then, every time you eat at Chipotle, you receive 10 points for every dollar you spend.
When you get 1,250 points, you are able to redeem them for a regular-priced entree.
At Chipotle, you can ask for 1/2 and 1/2 meat.
This means that you get to pick two different types of meat.
This selection means you get two different types of meat in your entree.
You pay for the more expensive meat.
It is challenging for the crew member to measure half of your meat accurately.
They can measure a full scoop or serving easily, but not a half.
This request means you will likely get more than a half scoop and more meat in your entree.
If you consider ordering a burrito bowl instead of a burrito or tacos.
You get all the same food in a bowl as you would in a burrito.
However, you are likely to get more food because the crew member is not trying to shove all the food in a tortilla.
You can load up on all the free toppings and get more in your bowl.