February 24, 2004

Chipotle’s Mistake

Posted in General at 10:14 pm by Ian

Went to Chipotle (Warning: flash site) tonight for the free burrito and drink due to me as advertised at this site. (Warning: Ugly, annoying, and loud flash site)

They decided to give a free burrito and drink to anyone with a 5C student id between 2 and 10 pm today. Bad Idea™

Atwood proctors were organizing whole carloads of people to go down there. Friends told friends, neighbors likewise. It brought the community together in a way that only free food can for college students. I heard from several people that around dinnertime, the line was so long it stretched out the door, around the building, and across the parking lot. By the time we got there at 8, the line was down to about 15 people, with another 25 or so in the dining area.

Number of paying customers: 0

They were really moving along, though, because they had lots of extra people working there. When we left, sitting in the car waiting to turn out of the parking lot and back onto the street, we watched a veritable flood of cars turning off of Foothill and onto Mountain, and then into the parking lot. Probably about 12 in the one left turn cycle. As every car went by, I looked in to see four or five smiling collegiate faces.



  1. Liza said,

    You write as if you work at Chipotle. I, for one, thought the free food was a fantastic idea.

  2. colin said,

    Chipotle couldnt have been happier. They have already approached me about doing it again in the fall. So call it a mistake if you want, but when the night was done 40% of all the people came in had never been to chipotle before. that promotion will generate enourmous returns for them…

  3. Ian said,

    It’s certainly possible that I underestimated the benefit of that kind of advertising because I already knew about Chipotle. But I’m wondering about two things: 1. that 40% datum and 2. Why they assume that college students who will go somewhere to get free stuff will do the same later, when they have to pay.

  4. colin said,

    well for every person that comes back, their purchase will pay for their previous burrito plus another one…so you dont need all fo them to come back…and only some of them. And those people who go back will probably go more than once. i dont really care i got my free chipotle, and they continue to give me free chipotle, so im not complaining.

  5. Ian said,

    Are you suggesting that Chipotle’s profit margin is around 66%? If so, I think you are very mistaken. Restaurants generally have very slim profit margins, around 5% or less.

  6. Ian said,

    But, hey. I agree. Free food for me is a good thing. That doesn’t change the fact that it may have been a bad idea for them.

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