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Chipotle's Monty Moran Unwraps the Restaurant's Success Story

Sozzi: Do you compensate those restaurants knocking the cover off the ball in terms of throughput?

Moran: We don't necessarily have financial incentives, occasionally we run throughput contests to see how much various restaurants can increase their throughput speed. The real incentive is when we rate field leaders at the end of the year, the No. 1 thing we rate them on is developing great teams and then, how well they are adhering to the four pillars of throughput. When they have great teams, they distinguish themselves very, very quickly as one of our very powerful leaders. Given how badly we need leadership in our organization, they become the big leaders. They are the ones who get the promotions, become team directors, and ultimately executive team directors.

Sozzi: With the success of Chipotle inspiring the next generation of fast casual restaurants, I am curious what you are seeing in the market right now.

Moran: Certainly I get a lot of emails about people knocking us off directly or who are starting the Mediterranean version of Chipotle, or the pizza version of Chipotle, there a lot of players in that space. I wouldn't say we are insular. But we really appreciate anyone doing food well, and we visit fine-dining restaurants to see what they are doing with food. What we are doing is pretty unique though because of the scale. When you have 1,700 restaurants you have to find a way to sustainably build more restaurants, especially when you own them all like we do, none are franchised, you have to find a way to keep them all running well.

We are really encouraged by how many other restaurants are trying to do something with responsibly raised ingredients, or organics, or local products, or whole ingredient. We are very encouraged by that because we think that the more that folks get into making food that actually matters and is better for you, the more traditional fast food becomes irrelevant and starts to fade away.

Our mission is to change how people eat fast food. In order to do that, there are a few ways. Build more Chipotles. That is one way. No. 2 is to get into different types of cuisine, as with ShopHouse and Pizzeria Locale. But another way you change fast food is by causing customers to understand how irrelevant traditional fast food is, by traditional fast food I mean where the predominant goal is the cheapening of the raw ingredients, the automation of the work such that anyone could do it that you don't need training so that they turn over their employees without any care for them, where it's a game of value meals and cheapening and cheapening the food experience. That is traditional fast food, and we think that's going away. We, and others like us, will replace that.

Another way is that others copy you. The fourth way is you get suppliers to start thinking how they raise food differently because there are more folks like Chipotle, they will have to do things according to our protocols. A fifth way is changing customer perception so that customers are aware where their food comes from and start making demands of grocers and restaurants to provide food in a way that makes sense to them. A sixth way, just educating folks who may not care because they don't know, but once they know may care.

At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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