Editors' pick: Originally published Oct. 31.
Where's the fried chicken sandwich and sweet potato fries, Steve Ells?
That's what some early patrons of embattled Chipotle's (CMG) - Get Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. Report new hamburger concept Tasty Made may have wondered while stepping up to order when the concept officially opened its doors last week.
The restaurant only has three burger options on the menu -- a hamburger, a cheeseburger and a specialty burger called the Tasty Made. As for sides there are only French fries, while the shake options number four in total. Rounding out the menu are typical sodas from Coca-Cola (KO) - Get Coca-Cola Company Report , which is odd in the sense the concept is emphasizing a Chipotle "better for you" image by grilling up antibiotic free beef. What high fructose corn syrup?
So, there are no craft colas that sub out high fructose corn syrup for organic cane sugar, no interesting shakes, and no Shake Shack (SHAK) - Get Shake Shack, Inc. Class A Report like chicken sandwich developed with the help of well-known local chefs. And judging by the picture of the menu below, there isn't a burger available with strips of bacon -- the Tasty Made burger has something called "bacon sauce."
It appears that Ells -- which is classically trained chef -- decided to open a 1950s style McDonald's (MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation Report in the year 2016, one with some natural ingredients but nothing to shake up a way more competitive burger game. Hey, what is better for a foodie to snap a picture of for use Instagram: a Tasty Made hamburger or Shake Shack SmokeShack that boasts cherry peppers and applewood smoked bacon.
All in all, pretty disappointing Mr. Ells (and some diners seem to agree looking at the tweets below).
Nevertheless, Ells keeping Tasty Made's menu extremely limited shouldn't come as a shocker.
Historically, Chipotle has been reluctant to make any changes to its menu in the fear of upsetting customers and slowing up busy lines. In fact, it's only added two new foods to its menu -- sofritas in 2014 and chorizo in late June-- in its entire 23-year history.
This stands in marked contrast to many fast-food companies such as McDonald's (MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation Report and Yum Brands' (YUM) - Get Yum! Brands, Inc. Report Taco Bell that routinely introduce new items to drum up publicity and buzz.
Chipotle has added new drinks from time to time, however. In April 2013, Chipotle debuted margaritas with Patrón Silver tequila, a more expensive offering compared to its "house" version. And more recently, the company debuted a new craft beverage program in its home market of Denver, Colorado. It has also begun testing two unnamed desserts.
"Since we opened the first Chipotle 23 years ago, our menu has changed very little, and our focus has been on constantly improving the quality and taste of the food we serve," Ells said back in June when announcing the chorizo launch, adding, "While we have never been opposed to changing our menu, we only do so when we think there's an opportunity to add something that is really unique but that fits within our overall menu, and where we can find ingredients that meet our high standards."
Chicken sandwich Mr. Ells, Tasty Made needs one.