Chipotle, don’t say I didn’t warn you.


As reports of Chipotle’s massive losses last quarter are posted,

Chipotle Mexican Grill is having a harder time than it expected winning back customers’ trust and loyalty after a series of foodborne illness outbreaks last fall.

The Denver-based restaurant chain suffered its first quarterly loss since going public in 2006.

Sales dropped 23.4 percent in the first quarter to $834.5 million, Chipotle reported Tuesday. What was a $122.6 million profit in the first quarter of 2015 melted into a $26.4 million loss over the same period this year.

On a per share basis, Chipotle lost 88 cents versus earnings of $3.88 a year earlier.

… it’s hard not to think back to what a sage certain someone had to say when the company didn’t extend paid sick days to their hourly employees last June:

The company is making an investment in their employees and hourly employees are less likely to be making a career with the company that hourlies. The same goes for accruing vacation days. But holding off a year on sick pay makes no sense for a food chain. The last thing you want is to put front line employees who handle food in the position of working sick or not making rent. It’s not Chipotle’s fault that the US is one of the only countries that doesn’t mandate paid sick days, but as long as they are at it, they may as well do everything they can to address the issue.

That might not have prevented the E. coli outbreaks (but it might have), but it very well could have prevented the much more serious norovirus outbreaks.

What the loss of sales shows is that lots of people will pay extra for trivial, faux sustainability, that will only get you so far if it butts up against consequential and very real food safety issues. And even the performative virtue routine was starting to wear a little thin.


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