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Can Chipotle compete by delivering “food with integrity”?

Pauline Assenza (Department of Management, Ancell School of Business, Western Connecticut State University, Danbury, Connecticut, USA)
Michael S. Lewis (Department of Business Studies, Assumption College, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA)

Publication date: 26 June 2019

Issue publication date: 10 September 2019


Research methodology

The case data were obtained from secondary sources including academic, newspaper and periodical sources.

Case overview/synopsis

The Founder of Chipotle Mexican Grill, CEO Steve Ells, was a restaurant innovator credited with creating the fast-casual experience. He believed that food, sourced and prepared responsibly, could help “cultivate a better world.” Unfortunately, he had to step down after a continuing series of food contamination events drove away both investors and customers. In 2018, new CEO Brian Niccol was brought in from Taco Bell to reposition the brand and regain confidence. Was it possible to continue with Chipotle’s mission of “food with integrity” or was another strategy necessary?

Complexity academic level

This case was prepared for an undergraduate strategy course. It can be used to illustrate all the key points in Chapter 1 of a traditional undergraduate strategy textbook. This case would be best placed in the first weeks of the course, as a first case to introduce to students the idea of strategy as a process that continuously assesses and revises strategic directions and decisions. It introduces a discussion of the role of mission, vision and values as part of the strategy process, and addresses the responsibility of leadership to do an ongoing evaluation of a firm’s strategic choices.



Disclaimer. This case is written solely for educational purposes and is not intended to represent successful or unsuccessful managerial decision making. The authors may have disguised names; financial, and other recognizable information to protect confidentiality.


Assenza, P. and Lewis, M.S. (2019), "Can Chipotle compete by delivering “food with integrity”?", , Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 233-252.



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