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Why Chipotle's extreme focus on this one thing has paid off


Since we’re officially more than halfway through Q1 earnings reports, it’s fair game to derive some of the winners from the start of 2024. Unquestionably among them is Chipotle, which experienced a 7% increase in same-store sales driven in large part by a 5.4% increase in traffic.

To understand the secret of Chipotle’s momentum of late, it’s important to understand its sharpened focus on throughput. Indeed, the word “throughput” was mentioned 33 times during the company’s earnings call April 24. Unsurprisingly, several brands, from Cheesecake Factory to Starbucks to Portillo’s, have noted a more intentional prioritization of throughput, because why wouldn’t they want to emulate Chipotle’s recent success? That said, they all have some catching up to do to get on the same playing field as Chipotle.

Indeed, throughout the past two years, Chipotle has become so maniacally focused on this piece of the business that in Q2 2023, CEO Brian Niccol said the company was creating a “culture of throughput to build this organization.” Here’s how Chipotle has gone about creating such a culture.

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