Chipotle Mexican Grill’s CEO Brian Niccol revealed this week a few major initiatives to help consumers and employees during the COVID-19 crisis.
Niccol, in a letter sent to customers, addressed the brand’s position on supporting local farmers, reopening stores to dine-in operations, and extending bonus pay for restaurant workers.
Here are highlights from the letter:
Extending appreciation pay
In late March, the Newport Beach, Calif.-based fast-casual chain, which has seen digital sales soar during the pandemic, gave employees a 10% pay increase between March 16 and April 12. This week, the company extended that pay to May 24. In addition, the chain said it gave a $500 one-time manager assistance bonus to its restaurateurs and general managers and a $250 bonus to apprentices who worked last month.
“This assistance pay is simply one of the ways that we’re expressing our appreciation for those who are willing and able to continue working during this time,” Niccol wrote.
The extension of Chipotle's bonus pay came a day before some New York City employees protested working conditions at the chain. Three Chipotle workers filed a federal complaint with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration on May 7, asking the agency to probe alleged safety violations.
On Thursday, Chipotle said "the health and safety of our employees and guests is our top priority."
In a statement, the company said its safety protocols are industry leading.
During the COVID-19 crisis, Chipotle said it is “taking heightened measures to provide safety during this time, which include: increased sanitization of high-touch, high-traffic areas; elevated frequency of personal hygiene requirements; social distancing markers; masks for employees; and a tamper evident packaging seal for mobile pick-up and delivery orders. Customers can also leave instructions in our app and online to request contactless deliveries.”
Reopening dining rooms
Niccol said Chipotle, which is seeing record digital sales during the crisis, said it is in no rush to reopen dining rooms even though restrictions are being lifted in some areas across the country.
“Getting back to the way of life and business we’re accustomed to consists of a gradual process that will take time and may differ based on the U.S. state or county where you live,” Niccol said in the letter. “We’re going to take steady, careful steps informed by local governments and public health officials to reopen our restaurant dining rooms. There is no official timeline that we can share at the moment.”
In the meantime, to help consumers shletering at home, Niccol said the company has suspended all delivery fees through May 10. The deal is valid on orders made through the company's branded website or app.
Reduced demand across the nation has left farmers dumping crops and facing more challenges than ever, Niccol said.
“Chipotle is committed to supporting the hard-working individuals that supply our ingredients with bold actionable steps that will help the industry survive. We have committed to increasing our local sourcing and providing long term contracts so our partners can sustain their farming practices,” Niccol wrote.
This is an extension of the company’s previously announced efforts to support the agricultural community.
On the current meat shortage, Chief Financial Officer Jack Hartung called the “supply situation” fluid.
“To date, we have been able to maintain our supply at reasonable prices and we have only experienced isolated spot outages. That could change if some of our key suppliers are affected,” he told NRN in a statement.
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