THE STORY

After graduating in culinary arts, Steve Ells dreamed of running a gourmet restaurant. To fund his dream, he figured he’d open a small burrito shop, make some cash, and get back on the ladder to Michelin-starred food. So in 1993, with an $80k loan from his father, he took over an ice cream store in Denver and set up shop, with no signage, no menu, and no décor.

On day one he made a few hundred bucks. By day two it doubled. And within a month, Ells was pushing over 1,000 burritos out the door every day. But rather than take the cash and run, he opened a second location in Denver. And a third. By 2017, Chipotle Mexican Grill would have nearly 2,408* locations. How the…?

They pulled a rabbit out of a hat—McDonald’s—who became an investor in 1998. In seven years, they injected over $360 million! But in 2006, Chipotle went public and they McSplit. When Chipotle stock hit the market, share price doubled and Wall Street was in love!

What could possibly go wrong?

E. coli and Norovirus. Over 100 people were sick in several states. Press was bad, shares nosedived, and the joyride ended in 2015. Despite new menu items, smart advertising, and 6 million free burritos, Chipotle is still in recovery.

In 2017, Ells stepped down as CEO. He still hasn’t opened a gourmet restaurant—that much is true. He did, however, build a multi-billion dollar fast food chain… by accident.

Ells in front of the ice cream shop he bought in 1993 and converted into the 1st Chipotle restaurant.

 

ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL?

Sh*t happens when you’re asleep at the wheel. If you’ve reached your goal and become too comfortable, be aware. Be it for work, personal goals, or relationships, remember to keep your eyes wide open.

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© Story by Tarek Issa.

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