Chipotle pulls plug on Tasty Made concept, citing poor economics of lone Ohio store

Chipotle Mexican Grill has closed its sole Tasty Made restaurant, citing the lack-luster financial performance of the better-burger joint in Lancaster, Ohio.

The Denver-based fast-casual chain opened the grilled-to-order burger joint in October 2016, just as it was phasing out its ShopHouse Asian food concept. The restaurant, led by chef Richard Blais, served only burgers, fries, milkshakes and sodas, and touted beef free of antibiotics or added hormones, and buns free of preservatives and other artificial ingredients.

“While we liked the concept and the delicious food at Tasty Made, the economics were not what we wanted them to be in Lancaster, Ohio, so we have decided to close that restaurant,” Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said.

All of the employees of the lone Tasty Made will be given the opportunity to apply for positions at Chipotle stores, he said.

“I’d also note that chef Richard Blais has been a great partner in this venture, and his talents quickly elevated the quality of the food at Tasty Made,” Arnold wrote in an email. “The decision to close is in no way a reflection on Richard or his capabilities as a chef and restaurateur, and we would certainly consider working with him again if there was an opportunity to do so that made sense.”

Tasty Made launched into a crowded market. The concept debuted as the company was beginning its recovery from a foodborne illness outbreak that sickened hundreds of customers and after activist shareholder Bill Ackman became Chipotle’s second-biggest investor.

The company’s share price has been slow to recover and in November, Chipotle acquiesced to pressure from Ackman and founding CEO Steve Ells stepped aside. In February, Chipotle hired fromer Taco Bell boss Brian Niccol to take the helm. Niccol begins work on Monday and is tasked with leading the 2,400-store chain back to prominence.

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