Responsibly Raised: Chipotle Mexican Grill Seeks Site Next to Panera in Palm Coast
FlaglerLive | October 18, 2016
Chipotle Mexican Grill, the 23-year-old fast-food chain that’s made its name using what it calls “Responsibly Raised ingredients” and meat from free-roaming animals, will be opening a restaurant in Palm Coast, at 5860 State Road 100, in the lot immediately west of Panera Bread. That’s the lot once slated for a Discount Tire store until work there abruptly halted and the company pulled out in February 2014.
Chipotle’s development project application was listed in the latest city development updates, along with notice of a development order issued for Aldi Grocery for a 17,825 suare foot store at the new Shoppes of Palm Coast, at the corner of State Road 100 and Belle Terre Parkway. That project is well on its way on the 13 acres of a commercial corner that’ll also include a Tractor Supply Company store and a Gate convenience store with 24 gas pumps.
But it’s Chipotle that’s more likely to get Palm Coast and Flagler residents salivating–despite the chain’s unfortunate recent history. Chipotle has been coming off what it described in its last annual report as “the most challenging year in Chipotle’s history.” The company’s reputation weathered a series of setbacks because of repeated outbreaks of E. coli and norovirus contracted by patrons at its restaurants, sending its share prices tumbling 45 percent in the most significant food-poisoning outbreak at a fast food chain since the 1993 Jack In The Box outbreak affected 700 people.
The company’s share prices had climbed steadily, along with its reputation as a hip, millennial-driven restaurant, from 2012 to late 2015, when it peaked at $750 a share. It then tumbled to and bottomed out at $388 last month, but never went below levels last seen in mid-2013, suggesting that the company was taking a hit, but far from a fatal one. Its food philosophy–ironically similar to that of Panera, its neighbor-to-be in Palm Coast–may be its salvation.
Just in the three months ending on June 30, the chain had opened 58 new restaurants worldwide, though it saw revenue for its last quarter decrease 16.6 percent, to just under $1 billion, and its profit decrease to $25.6 million, from $140 million. (Its third-quarter results are announced next week.)
Chipotle’s problems started in August 2015 at a restaurant in California , spread to the Northwest, then migrated to the Midwest, affecting hundreds of patrons along the way.
The company has sought to reverse its damaged fortunes by trying to make food safety part of its hip marketing. “We are committed to learning all we can from a difficult time to become a better company, and we strongly believe that our best days are ahead of us,” Steve Ells, the company’s CEO, told investors in the annual report. “We are also deeply committed to regaining the trust of our customers, and know that by doing so we will be in the best position to provide strong returns to our shareholders.”
He continued: “These past months, we have implemented a thoughtful, comprehensive system of food safety protocols. The scope and scale of these protocols is vast, and will help us become a leader in food safety. Today, we have more than 2,000 restaurants and nearly 60,000 employees who are poised to deliver the safest, most delicious food available.”
The Palm Coast Chipotle plan, as it is known at the city administration, actually entails two businesses on 0.87 acres–Chipotle, and a business yet to be determined. The site plan is “to make sure it’s an appropriate use of that site,” Cindi Lane, the city’s chief spokesperson, said today. “It sounds pretty promising.”The company would then have to apply for a site development then a building permit.