The first time I ever had Chipotle was a hot and spicy revelation! How could food — fast food — be this good? I had it for lunch and then again for dinner that night and I’ve been going at least twice a week ever since. I’m a decade in to my Chipotle fan girl-ism and I’ve yet to grow tired, bored, or less impressed.
Not only do I love the food, but the brand is one of my very favorites. From a social media and marketing perspective, they don’t just get it, they’re setting the bar. I tweet with @ChipotleTweets regularly; almost more reliably than my grandmother was on Facebook, they will respond every time. It’s usually Joe, sometimes it’s not. And a while back, Joe (the company’s director of social media) mentioned that if I were in Denver, he’d meet me at the original store for lunch and a tour.
Obviously I took him up on that invitation!
The original store is at Evans and Gilpin in Denver, just west of the University of Denver campus. Joe said a lot is the same, some stuff has changed. The sign remains from the previous tenant, a Dolly Madison ice cream store. The 850 square feet inside serves as a museum for those who were there from the start, and a killer place to grab lunch for everyone else!
Joe caught me up on the history of the company and the role he’s played. Just the kind of stories I love to hear! We shared lunch and talked about #HappySummr, my quirky habit to avoid the red onions in the green salsa, and confirmed that Steve Ells is as genuine as I assumed. (They went to high school together, he should know!)
The manager, Billy, was super nice and very accommodating to two relative strangers who wanted to stick their noses around his store. Chipotle fan girl, a bit of a foodie, I had a geeky good time hanging out in the kitchen. It’s so tiny that it’s hard to believe they can handle making such exceptional food back there.
Then we entered the secret lair of the original Chipotle — the basement! There’s hardly room for a soda fountain, so that’s where the office and storage go. The old wooden beams and concrete walls are covered floor to ceiling with the signatures of every Chipotle employee from that location, and a few visitors. Steve Ells was easy to spot. Joe invited me to leave my name and I was happy to do so!
Seriously, thank you to Joe for meeting today. It was a real treat.
From the way they market to customer service, and especially the quality of the food they source and serve, it’s hard not to love everything about Chipotle.