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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chipotle Mexican Grill Brings Gourmet Fast Food to Fairfield

Chipotle Mexican Grill Brings Gourmet Fast Food to Fairfield:
Freshness, quality and integrity defining cornerstones
By Mike Lauterborn

Fairfield, CT – Fairfield welcomed another new eatery to town last month and already it has become a favorite destination for locals.

In mid-November, Chipotle Mexican Grill began dishing up its award-winning gourmet burritos, bowls, tacos and salads at 340 Grasmere Avenue, near Kings Highway and Kings Highway Cutoff, in the King Crossing Shopping Center, anchored by Whole Foods Market. The 2,275-square-foot space, which seats 44 inside and eight outdoors, is the second Chipotle in Fairfield County (Darien opened in Dec. 2010) and is among six others in Connecticut. There are over 1,100 Chipotles across the U.S. as well as locations in France, Canada and Great Britain.

A driving reason for the chain’s popularity is its fresh, high-quality food and standards of integrity, a foundation created from the beginning by Founder, Chairman and CEO Steve Ells. This year, Chipotle expects to use over 10 million pounds of produce from local family farms within 350 miles of the restaurants where it will be served. In addition, all the pork and chicken Chipotle serves is naturally and humanely raised (an all vegetarian diet, no added hormones or antibiotics, and responsible animal husbandry). Its beef is also naturally raised, and sour cream and cheeses made from milk that is free of bovine growth hormones. Further, 40 percent of the black and pinto beans that Chipotle purchases are organically grown.

The mission Ells established for Chipotle is to change the way people think about and eat fast food, said spokeperson Katherine Newell Smith. “Food that is served fast doesn’t have to be a typical fast-food experience,” she said. To that regard, Chipotle pioneered offering gourmet-level ingredients to make great tasting meals in a quick-service environment.

Ells almost stumbled upon the decision to use premium ingredients in his burritos and tacos, while living in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1990s. There, he was working alongside Chef Jeremiah Tower at San Francisco’s Stars restaurant and began to think he could use the same kind of ingredients he used at Stars to fill burritos and tacos. Chipotle was born and he opened his first restaurant in Denver in 1993.

Market-fresh herbs, fresh batches of marinated meats, and house-made tortilla chips seasoned with freshly squeezed lime juice and tossed with kosher salt became the order of the day. Ells has even taken his principles a step further, incorporating sustainable architecture in all new building projects since 2001.

At the Fairfield location, as in other Chipotles, diners will find a hip, clean dining room, great music and gourmet food you can eat with your hands, all for about $7 a plate.

“We are committed to cultivating a better world one burrito at a time,” said Smith.

Chipotle Mexican Grill is located at 340 Grasmere Avenue, Fairfield. Open 7 days a week, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Phone: 203-255-7665. For groups or parties, burritos can be ordered by the box, at $9 per person. A kids menu is available.

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