NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Chipotle Mexican Grill ( CMG) had a stellar run in 2014 as its healthier take on fast food led to crowded restaurants at lunchtime and dinner, big sales gains and a surging stock price.
Replicating that trifecta of success next year and beyond won't be so easy, however.
The burrito and salad bowl king will confront several challenges in the quarters and years ahead, including fewer prime real estate opportunities for its newer restaurants and pressure to maintain the unique employee culture that has fed the chain's winning ways. Furthermore, Chipotle is unlikely to raise menu prices next year as it did in 2014, with inflation related to beef, poultry, avocados and dairy cooling off of late.
Those factors may make Chipotle less appealing to investors who have piled into the company looking for growth. Chipotle's stock has skyrocketed 28% this year, handily outpacing the 5% rise for Starbucks (SBUX) and 13% gain for the S&P 500.
TheStreet takes a look at the challenges ahead for every millennial's favorite place for lunch.
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