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Chipotle optimistic about new prototype

DENVER Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. has introduced a new prototype that it said costs less to build and operate and uses less energy to maintain, while also providing the opportunity for increased sales volumes.

As part of a refresher to the Denver-based company’s more than 900-unit chain, Chipotle said Tuesday its new restaurant design has a kitchen that has been reduced in size by 25 percent and a price tag that has been cut by $25,000. It was a three-year project, the company said in its presentation during the Cowen Consumer Conference in New York.

With a smaller footprint, the new prototype also can help Chipotle fill in smaller markets because the unit will have lower development costs, but the same return on investment, the company said.

“We can open with confidence on a 35-percent cash-on-cash return,” said co-chief executive Monty Moran. “It broadens our opportunities and is a lower-risk strategy.”

Chipotle plans to open between 120 and 130 new locations in 2010, and at least 32 of those will be this new prototype, dubbed the “A Model.” The kitchen was constructed by a designer who works with well known, high-end kitchens, Chipotle said, and will help employees work more efficiently.

Other restaurant design elements include new colors, “greener” materials and varying dining areas, such as counters, small group settings and larger group areas, the company said.

To listen to Chipotle’s full presentation at the Cowen & Co. investor conference click here.

Contact Sarah E. Lockyer at [email protected].

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