Businesses emulate Chipotle’s model

By Lingyi Hou, Contributing Writer

Chipotle has risen to the top of the on-the-go food scene in America with over 20 years of experience and more than 1,600 restaurants around the country. Chipotle has begun a fast casual trend in restaurants, providing customers with a more upscale dining atmosphere, more freshly prepared food and higher quality ingredients than traditional fast food restaurants.

Chipotle’s style of serving food has caught on, and a wide variety of restaurants are adopting their business model to redefine the fast-food experience. The Hummus & Pita Co., Soho Tiffin Junction and Roast Kitchen are examples of restaurants near NYU that share Chipotle’s business style.

The Hummus & Pita Co., located at 816 Broadway, allows customers to build a custom meal with the same working line and cafe setting as Chipotle, but offers Mediterranean food including falafel, shawarma and gyros. The restaurant provides NYU students buy one, get one free deals every Friday. Though the restaurant is similar to Chipotle, owner Steven Pesso does not give Chipotle credit for inventing the style.

“It is actually not Chipotle that comes up with this kind of idea,” Pesso said. “They make it popular, but this style has been existing more than 50 years. If you go back to the old school, you will find it is the same thing. You wait in a line, order the food and then get it and pay it very quickly.”

Soho Tiffin Junction, which opened last April at 42 E. Eighth St., is an Indian restaurant that uses the same concept as Chipotle. Their food features build-your-own dosas, dosa bowls and salads. They also give all NYU students a 15 percent discount on their meals.

Dawn Mcclan, who has worked at the restaurant since it opened, said Soho Tiffin Junction is committed to serving its customers.

“We are focused on food more than anything else,” Mcclan said. “We make our food fresh and our customers happy first. And we always work together with a hand in hand culture.”

Roast Kitchen, at 120 University Place, is another fast casual food chain in New York that creates bowls and wraps. Naeemah Ouedraogo, who works at Roast Kitchen, sees both similarities and differences between Roast Kitchen and Chipotle.

“We are similar to Chipotle in the business model, because we are all healthy,” Ouedraogo said. “But at the same time, we are also different. We have more options than Chipotle.”

Fast casual has redefined the dining experience in the fast food industry. Employers have never put such a heavy weight on the health, quality and service of food as they do now. Many college students, such as Gallatin junior Sally Ruan, appreciate the fast casual style of restaurants.

“It is really efficient and I like it,” Ruan said. “It is a good alternative to general fast food. It is still fast, but I like the way that I can actually see what they are doing in front of me.”

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Nov. 25 print edition. Email Lingyi Hou at [email protected]