Cheyenne Wright started working for a Chipotle restaurant in Queens, NY, in 2015 when she was a senior in high school. After graduation, her family moved to Florida, but she only stayed for two months.
“I’m a New York City girl, so I came back,” Wright said. She had to figure out how to make it on her own in the big city, and since Chipotle was familiar to her, she went back to work for the company and has worked her way up ever since.
“I felt like I was smart enough to be my own person and I knew Chipotle was somewhere I could grow,” she said. In 2017, she was transferred to a Chipotle in Manhattan’s Financial District, which she calls “the best transfer ever.” It’s where she realized the potential that existed within the company and where she committed to doing the work to achieve her goals.
“My GM at the time told me everything Chipotle has to offer and told me if I was willing to put in the work, [the company] can get me to wherever I wanted to be,” Wright said. “I put in the work. The rest is history.”
Wright started as a crew member, then moved to takeout specialist, then kitchen manager, service manager, assistant general manager and now general manager — a role she’s held for about two years. At the time of her promotion, Wright became the youngest Chipotle GM in New York City. She leads a team of three kitchen managers, three service managers and about 30 crew members. Wright already has her eye on the next step — certified training manager — and then perhaps a field leader.
“I eventually want to be a team director and maybe even go higher in the company,” Wright said. “I feel like there are no levels to stop at Chipotle. Whatever opportunities there are, I’m here for it.”
Wright has no shortage of enthusiasm for the role, and her field leader Jevon Allen said she has what it takes to reach that next level.
“The best leaders are people who pivot during difficult times and truly find ways to empower themselves and their team,” he said. “That’s something she truly embodies. Her restaurant is very busy, and she manages to keep it under control and keep her team happy. She’s also very authentic [and] in this company, authenticity is a value we portray. If you want honesty, she’ll tell you.”
Wright adds that she’s not shy and believes it makes her uniquely qualified for the role, especially in her restaurant, which just happens to be across the street from the Borough of Manhattan Community College and in one of the busiest foot traffic areas in the city.
“I tell you like it is because I expect you to do the same for me. I think that is one of my strengths as a manager. I listen to what my team has to say, take the feedback, and give it back to them,” Wright said. “It’s a never-ending process of getting better.”
The people — both her team and her customers — are what motivates her most, but “keeping everybody happy” is also the biggest challenge for Wright. She credits Chipotle for making that part easier.
“We don’t go by Cheyenne’s rules. Chipotle has one standard, so everything is fair, and my job is just to explain the why and how. It is hard to keep everyone happy all the time, but if we do what we’re supposed to do, it just happens by itself,” she said.
Wright constantly reiterates her gratitude for the opportunities she’s experienced thus far, noting that she perhaps feels a deeper connection with her employees and other Chipotle employees in New York City because of the pandemic.
“Covid hit our city hard, and I feel like we’re really strong at whatever is thrown at us because of what we went through. We figure things out together,” she said. “My resilience is why I’m still here and I know I couldn’t be without my team. I knew if I showed up, the rest of my team would. We went through a pandemic together and I feel like we’re stronger than ever.”
Contact Alicia Kelso at [email protected]