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TheStreet Open House

Jim Cramer's 'Mad Money' CEO Chats: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and Chipotle Mexican Grill

Stocks in this article: PLKICMG

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Every night, Jim Cramer sits down with CEOs and executives on his "Mad Money" show to discuss their business, the economy, politics and more. Today we look back at his recent interviews with Cheryl Bachelder, CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen (PLKI), and Jack Hartung, CFO of Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG), for a read on what's new in the restaurant sector given ever-changing consumer tastes.

These are excerpts from Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap, originally published on Jan. 21 and Feb. 3, 2014.

Executive Decision: Cheryl Bachelder

For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Cheryl Bachelder, CEO of AFC Enterprises, now known as Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. Shares of Popeyes are up 75% since Cramer first got behind the stock 18 months ago.

Bachelder painted a mixed picture for the quarter. She said while sales were up 1%, overall traffic was down, although by less than the quick-service restaurant group overall. Among the major hurdles: consumer confidence. Bachelder said consumers need to be upbeat about their futures in order to start spending again.

Popeyes still remains a turnaround story, Bachelder noted, with 60% of its stores now remodeled and seeing a 34% uptick in sales as a result. When asked about saturation, Bachelder said Popeyes is not saturated in any market yet, which is why it opened 194 new locations just last year. New national advertising has people lined up and waiting at many of the new restaurants, she continued.

When asked about international sales, Bachelder saw that as another terrific opportunity for Popeyes. She said the company has opened a dozen locations in Peru that are off to a great start.

Cramer remains bullish on the newly renamed Popeyes.

Executive Decision: Jack Hartung

For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer spoke with Jack Hartung, CFO of Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG), which just delivered a surprise 9.3% pop in sale-store sales.

Hartung commented on Chipotle's marketing efforts, which include sponsoring a new online video series entitled Farmed and Dangerous that pokes fun at the traditional food chain. He said Chipotle doesn't believe in marketing around gimmicks and promotions but would rather create curiosity and get people thinking about where their food comes from.

When asked why Chipotle doesn't just create an inexpensive menu using cheap ingredients, Hartung said that in the short term cheap ingredients may be appealing, but over the long term Chipotle's strategy of food with integrity is better for animals, crops, family farms and the health of consumers. By charging a fair price for great food, Chipotle has seen strong returns, he added.

How does Chipotle create its success? It's not by skimpy on the food, Hartung said. Instead, the company creates efficiencies by having small restaurants and a simple menu with not a lot of marketing.

Cramer said he remains a huge fan of Chipotle.

To watch replays of Cramer's video segments, visit the Mad Money page on CNBC.

To sign up for Jim Cramer's free Booyah! newsletter with all of his latest articles and videos please click here.

-- Written by Scott Rutt in Washington, D.C.

To email Scott about this article, click here: Scott Rutt

Follow Scott on Twitter @ScottRutt or get updates on Facebook, ScottRuttDC

At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had no position in stocks mentioned.

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