After a seemingly endless sequence of health scare after health scare, Chipotle’s consumer trust and stock price were in the toilet. With no definitive answer as to what exactly caused the nationwide E. Coli epidemic, Chipotle has been forced to seriously rethink its current food preparation standards and make systematic changes.
On February 8th, 2016, Chipotle plans to temporarily shut down for a nationwide staff meeting to discuss food safety. Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold tells Eater, “We are hosting a national employee meeting on the 8th to talk to all of our employees around the country about what happened and the many steps we are taking to enhance our food safety programs going forward.”
There is a lot to be discussed. Not only did the E. Coli outbreak affect around 50 people across the United States, but a Norovirus outbreak in Boston is said to have made somewhere around 140 people fall ill. Yet, according to the Wall Street Journal, zero customers have reported getting sick from E. Coli since late November, which means Chipotle is on the come up.
But a huge staff meeting isn’t the only thing Chipotle has up its sleeve to turn things around. The chain already has some big plans to bring back customers with something everyone can get behind: free food. People will undoubtably be weary to try a food with a newfound reputation for getting people sick; therefore, Chipotle will have to go out of its way to show people the food still has integrity. While speaking at an investor conference, Chipotle founder and co-Chief Executive Steve Ells notes, “I’m confident we’ll recover from this and win back our customers.” Investors must agree with Ells statement, because as of Thursday, Chipotle’s stock rose 6.07%.
Things are looking up.