While Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. plans to close all of its restaurants during lunch on Feb. 8 for a systemwide meeting, Freshii is looking to take advantage of the temporary closure.
The fast-casual chain said it will “help consumers through these dark hours” by offering half-priced Mexican-inspired menu items all day at its 200 participating locations in 80 cities and 15 countries.
“Like millions of other people, we at Freshii are big fans of Chipotle,” Freshii founder and CEO Matthew Corrin said in a statement. “We figured the least we would do was look after their customers while Chipotle paused to recalibrate. If a few Chipotle customers fall in love with a Freshii menu item, we hope they’ll come back to both stores more often.”
Chipotle said Tuesday that it will share information as to what may have caused a spate of foodborne illness outbreaks in 2015 during the meeting, which will be broadcast live from the operator’s Denver headquarters to all of its roughly 60,000 employees.
Chipotle executives plan to thank employees for their extraordinary work implementing the company’s new food safety protocols rolled out last year after a series of foodborne illness outbreaks, including a wave of E. coli that sickened 53 people in nine states.
Norovirus outbreaks in Boston and California were believed to be the result of sick employees, and tomatoes were the culprit in a salmonella outbreak in Minnesota. But health officials have been unable to pinpoint what ingredient or practices may have caused the E. coli outbreak that began in the Pacific Northwest in October.
Chipotle’s enhanced food-safety standards, which are largely in place, include high-resolution DNA testing of some ingredients before they are shipped to restaurants. Some high-risk produce, like tomatoes and lettuce, will be washed and cut at a central kitchen, and cheese will be shredded.
Some ingredients, like avocados, onions and limes, will be blanched before prepping, and the company will add new protocols for marinating chicken and steak.
“Over the last few months, we have been implementing an enhanced food-safety plan that will establish Chipotle as an industry leader in food safety,” said Steve Ells, Chipotle founder, chairman and co-CEO. “Most of the new protocols are already in place, thanks to the hard work and dedication of our excellent restaurant teams. Additionally, we have implemented unprecedented food-safety standards with our suppliers, which make the food coming into our restaurants safer than ever before.”
Chipotle is also offering a $50 currency card and a limited-edition gift from the makers of Tabasco sauce on catering for the Super Bowl on Feb. 7, valid on Burritos by the Box orders for 20 or more. The currency cards will be valid for catering or box orders placed on or before March 31.