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Strategy Development

The purpose of this project is for you to apply management principles to create management plans that include strategy formulation, business analyses, industry trends, and organizational characterization. Deliverables one through four focus on preparing you for the final capstone project. You will apply skills, experience, and knowledge that you have gained through the completion of prerequisite courses throughout each deliverable.

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The intent of the Capstone project is for you to use the same case/company throughout the course. Select one out of the three recommended cases listed below. Each case is located in the Cases to Accompany Contemporary Strategy Analysis [PDF]  section of the textbook.

The recommended cases are:

  • Case 10: Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.: Disrupting the Fast‐food Business.

You may also use the Internet or Strayer Learning Resource Center to research articles on your chosen case or company.

Based on the case, you will perform an industry analysis and develop a strategy for the CEO of your chosen company to help shape the company’s future.


Write a 3–5-page paper in which you:

  1. Define strategy and examine how the definition of strategy fits your chosen company and its situation. Support your response.
  2. Summarize the main strategies that your chosen company’s management took leading up to this company’s recent development.
  3. Identify your chosen company’s industry and determine its main competitors. Next, select two to three strategies that the competitors use, and analyze whether or not the selected strategies are      successful. Support your response.
  4. Perform an industry analysis for the CEO of your chosen company in order for him or her to develop strategy for the company. Next, evaluate the company’s current standing in this industry by taking into account the company’s resources and capabilities.
  5. Propose at least three performance goals for the company for the next one- and five-year period respectively. Provide a rationale for your response.
  6. Use at least three quality references. Note: Wikipedia and other similar websites do not qualify as academic resources.

This course requires the use of Strayer Writing Standards. For assistance and information, please refer to the Strayer Writing Standards link in the left-hand menu of your course. Check with your professor for any additional instructions.

The specific course learning outcome associated with this assignment is: Conduct an industry analysis to inform strategy development and performance goals for a given company.

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Case 10 Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.: Disrupting the Fast-food Business

Chipotle Mexican Grill was the most successfu l new rc.:sla urant chain to be estab- lished in the US since 1990. From a single resta urant in 1993, Chipotle was expected to have 1988 restaurants by the end of 2015 that would generate sales of about $1 .3 billion. Strong top-line and bottom-line growth-during 2010-2014 revenues had grown by 22% annually and net income by 26% annually-had made Ch ipotle the best-perform ing stock in its sector (F igure 1).

Compared with industry leaders such as McDonald’s and Yum! Brands, Chipotle was still a small player. Yum! Brands had 41,000 KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell restaurants generating sa les of $34 billion. Yet, Chipotle’s market capitalization was $21 billion compared to $34 billion for Yum! Brands: a clear indication of investors’ favorable expectations for Chiporle’s future growth and profitability.

Chipotle’s Founding and Growth

Steve Ells graduated from a New York culinary school in 1990. Working at a San Francisco restaurant, he developed a passion for fresh ingredients and became intrigued by the combination of high-quality cuisine, fast service, and low prices offered by the local taqueria-tiny restaurants se rving Lac:os and burritos. He opened his first Chipotle Mexican Grill in a former icc cream pa rl o r in his home town of Denver in 1993. lie described the birth of the concept as fo llows:

The insp iration came fro m the little taqueria in the.: Mission district of San Fra ncisco. What fascinated me about these bu rritos was tha t they were made in this great to r- lilla and everything was on the inside-th e rice, the beans, the meat, the salsas- then wrapped in foil . .. So the idea was that I cou ld usc these authentic ingredients but then put my own twist to them … I noticed customers formed a line and how smal l the place was and how few peop le were behind th e counter. So the eco- nomic model that was happening occurred to me. 1

His father provided the initial capital:

Steve said he needed $75,000. So I said, “OK, you ‘ve got to write a business plan.” It was one page and it said, “Worst-case, best-case and mid-case.” lie put down

This case was prepared by Robert M. Grant. ©201 S Robert M. Grant.


FIGURE 1 Chipotle 1\lcxican C~rill Inc: Share Price . . W0(}-2() I:; ($)

2008 2010 201 2 2014

“number of burritos sold p<.:r day,” and th<.:n ht: went through th<.: cost of the burrito and th e cost of e lectricity, utilities, rent, tmcl re paying my loan. The break-even w<ls he had to sell 1J4 burritos a day. 2

By 1998, Ch ipotle had 16 restau rants and, for its next stage of expansion, was seeki ng venture capital. Steve Ells’ fHther recounts:

We sen t the bus iness plan to 13 venture capita l or investment banke r-type compa- nies that specialize in the restau ra nt business. We got rejected by all 13. 1

Venture capital came from a surprising source: McDonald’s Corporation invested $380 million for a minority stake, fueling Chipotlc’s nation al expansion. When Chipo tle went public in 2006, McDona ld’s sold its share holding for $1.5 billion. Ells’ friend and legal advise r Monty Moran joined Chipotle in 2005 and in 2009 was appointed co-CEO with Steve Ells.

Ells’ passion for fresh, wholesome ingredients extended to increasi ng concern over e nv iro nm e ntal sustainability and animal welfa re. The resu lt was the la unch of Ch ipotle’s “Food with Integ rity” initiative in 2001. This invo lved sourcing organ ically prodllcecl foodstuffs, includ ing meat from free-rHnge, hormone-free a nimals, a nd an emphasis o n local sourcing. Chiporle’s commitment ro humane, sustainable farming became a key theme in its ma rketing a nd brand d eve lo pme nt. ln 2011, a commercial video e ntitled Back to the Start featuring Willie Nelso n sin ging a song about a fanner embracing o rganic farming became hugely popular.

Chipotle expla ined tha t irs v ision “is to change the way people think about a nd eat fast food. We do this by avoiding a formulaic Hpproach when creating o ur res- taurant experience, looking to fine-dining reMau rants for insp iratio n. We use high- qual ity raw ing redients, classic cook ing methods and a distinctive inte rio r design a nd have frie ndly people.” This vis io n was not necessa rily limited to Mexican food . As far as Steve Ells w<ls concerne d: “The mod el is c uisine agn ostic. It can be applied


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to any kind of food.” Chipotle’s director o f concept de velopment, Tim Wilding, was eage r to exploit this opportunity:

Hearing Steve say that many cuisines cou ld work in the Chipotle format, I basically pitched him this idea. I said, ”Steve, we have to do a Southeast Asian restaurant.” He miraculously said, “OK, ler’s do this.” So I set up a trip for us and we went to Bangkok and Singapore, and we spent a little over a week just eating like crazy.4

The result was the first Shop I-Io use Southeast Asian Kitchen opening in Washington, DC in 2011.

During 2011, Ells began collaborating with Denve r restaurateurs Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson to c reate a fast-food ve rsion of their gourmet pizza restaurant, Pizzeria Locale. With Ch ipotle as the major investor, two Pizzeria Locales opened in Denver and a numbe r of orh e r o penings were planned for 2015. ln Febru ary 2015, Ch ipotle reiterated its b e lie f that:

The fundamental principles on wh ich Chipotle restaurants are based-finding the very best sustainably raised ingredients, p repared and cooked using classical meth- ods in ti-ont of the customer, and se rved in an inte ractive format by special people dedicated to providing a great dining expe rie nce-can be adapted to cuisines other than the food we serve at Chi potle . ~

Restaurant Operations

Chipo tle’s distinctive product offering-based upon freshly prepared, o rganic ingre- dients that allowed a maximum of c ho ice within a limited-item menu-required an operational model that was distinctive ly different from that which o perated through- out the fast-food industay.

Ingredients formed a much highe r percentage of total costs than were typical in the industJy, hence, if prices were to be kept low, this req uire d cost efficiencies else- where. If each customer was to be allowed to c usto mi:le his/her o rder, it required restaurant staff to engage with customers during the preparation of their order.

Chipotle restau rants are all company owned and ope rated and are between 1,000 and 2,800 square feet- m uch sma lle r th a n a typical fast-l·ood res taurant. Chipotle’s emphasis on simp licity and funct ional ity is reflected in the design and decor of its restaurants. The layout is designed to optimize space uti lization and maximize the efficiency of customer service. The decor is minim alist w ith concrete floors, exposed piping, natural co lors, and a plentiful use of wood and stainless steel.

At Chipotle, customers order from a pare d -d own me nu o f tacos and burritos, then watch the kitchen staff prepare their mea l from fresh, susta inably raised ingredients. “We don’ t say on the menu board that we have fresh guacamole,” says founder and co-CEO Steve Ells. “As a customer, you can sec it being made right in front of you.”

Chipotle’s menu is based upo n the principle of “A Few Things, Thousands of Ways.” The menu comprises o nly burritos (also served without the tortiUa as a “bur- rito bowl”), tacos, and sa lads. Because customers can choose among four different meats o r tofu, two types of beans, and va rious extr’..ts, the menu offers “countless cho ices.” The ingredients are freshly prepared, by hand, each day.


The restauranL-; feature open kitchens and customers form a line which moves along the serving counter, selecting the ingredients fo r their chosen dish. Speed of service is achieved through focusing upon the “four pillars of throughpm”: a dedi- cated “expeditor,” who works just before the cashier to get drink and side orders and bag to-go orders; a ded icated ” linebacker,” who ensures the serving line is always stocked; mise en place, meticulous attention to having everything placed and ready for serving; and “aces in their places,” the best employees at each position during peak periods. Chipotle regards itself as an industry leader in speed of ser- vice: some of Chipotle’s fastest restaurants run more than 350 transactions per hour at lunchtime.

Human Resource Management

The fact that all employees engage with customers has important implications for human resource management. Chipotle’s 2014 annual repor t states:

All of our restaurant employees are encouraged to interact with customers no matter th eir job, whether preparing food or serving customers during our busiest period. We focus on attracting and retaining people who can deliver that experi- ence for each customer. We provide each customer with individual attention and make every elTon Lo respond to custorner suggestions and concerns in a personal and hospitable way. We believe our focus on creating a positive and interactive experience helps build loyalty and enthusiasm for our brand among general man- agers, crew members and customers alike.<•

Chipotlc was committed to training its employees and promoting from within. Ito; webs ite clcclared: “No Experience Preferred”:

Many restaurant companies hire “professional” managers to ru n their restaurants and almost never look to th<.:ir crews for new leaders. Bu t at Chipotle, most of our general managers were promoted from our crews and bec-ause our company is growing, there’s plenty of opportunity.’

Chipotle’s focus on developing its managers resulted in its “restaurateur program.” Restaurateurs are general managers specially selecwd for their management abili- ties-especial ly for their ability to develop thei r staff. When selected, they get a one- time bonus and stock options. And after that they receive an extra $10,000 each time they train a crew member to become a general manager. Restau rateurs have greater discretion in running their own restaurants and, in some cases, manage more than one restaurant.

Co-CEO Monty Mora n identified its approach to human resource management as a key clement of Chipotle’s competitive advantage:

Our strong People culture co ntinues to drive our success in attracting loyal cus- tomers and delivering exceptional results. Our restaurant teams are ambitious, passionate, and dedicated to delivering the best dining experience possible. Our efforts to hire and develop top performing cr<.:ws will continue to lead to stronger

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Chipotle went to great efforts to distinguish itself from established perceptions of fast food. Its corporate profile positioned itself within the “fast-cas ual” rather than the “fast-food” segment (Exhibit 1). Its distinctive app roach extends to its market- ing where it eschews most traditional marke ting in favor of social media and non- traditional means of promotion. Chipotle emph~t s i zes co mmunicating “what differ- e ntiates Chipotle from other fast food companies,” espec ially with regard to its “Food with Integrity” mission:

[W)e are continu ing to explo re a nd pi o nee r new <tven ues of branded content aim<..:d at making consumers more cu rious about issues that are important to us, and explaining why and how we are working to drive pos itive change in the nation’s food supply. In addition, we continue 10 ge ne rate considerab le media cove rage …

[W]e have been developing more “owned media,” including new video and music programs, a more visible event strategy thai includes o ur “Cultivate” food, music and ideas festiva ls, and participation in releva nt events in markets around the coun- try. Many of these newer programs allow us to te ll o ur story with more nuance than is afforded by traditional advertis ing, and help forge stronger emotional con- nections with our customers.9

Within social media, Chipotle was widely viewed as the most engaged and responsive of fast-food companies in terms of freq ue ncy of tweets and responses to Pacebook posts. This allowed it to build strong o ne-to-one e ngagement with its core demograph ic group of 18- to 24-year-o lds.


The restaurant business is fiercely competitive and Chipotle faced competition on mu ltiple fron ts. By 2015, Chipotle had estab lished itse lf among th e leading fast-food chains in th e US (Table 1), although among those s pecializing in Mexican cu isine , Chipotle was a distant second to Yum! Brand’s Taco Bell (Table 2).

Taco Bell’s response to Chipotlc’s success was to introduce a new, upscale menu under the “Cantina Bell” name. Second, Taco Bel l launched a new chain of casual dining restaurants, US Taco Company. When, in 2012, David Einhorn, founder of hedge fund Greenlight Capital, recommended shorting Chipotle because of Taco Bell’s resurgence, Chipotle’s sha re price fell by 7%. Einhorn’s case against Chipotle was supported by a Zagar comparison of stea k burritos: although Chipotlc’s was declared superior to that of Cantina Bell, Chipotle’s was priced at $10.34 compared to $5.99 for the Cantina Bell product


Chipotle Corporate Profile

When Chipotle (pronounced chi-POAT-Iay) opened its

first store in 1993, the idea was simple: demonstrate

that food served fast didn’t have to be a •fast-food•

experience. We use high-quality raw ingredients,

classic cooki ng methods and a distinctive interior

desig n, and have friendly people to take care of each

customer- features that are more frequently found in

the world of fine dining. When we opened, there wasn’t

an industry category to describe what we were doing.

Some 20 years and more than 1500 restaurants later,

we compete in a category of dining now called •fast-

casual; the fastest growing segment of the restaurant

industry, where customers expect food quality that’s

more in line with full-service resta urants, coupled with

the speed and convenience of fast food .. .

Our focus has always been on using the kinds of

higher-quality ingredients and cooking techniques

used in high-end restaurants to make great food acces-

sible at reasonable prices. But our vision has evolved.

While using a variety of fresh ingredients remains the

foundation of our menu, we believe that •fresh is not

enough. anymore~ Now we want to know where all of

our ingredients come from, so that we can be sure they

are as flavorfu l as possible while understanding the

environmental and societal impact of our business. We

call this idea Food With Integrity, and it guides how we

run our business.

• Using higher-quality ingredients. We use a variety

of ingredients that we purchase from carefully

selected suppliers. We concentrate on where we

obtain each ingredient . . . and we contin ue to

investigate using even more naturally raised, organ-

ically grown and sustainably grown ingredients …

• A few things, thousands of ways. We only serve a

few things: burritos. burrito bowls (a burrito with-

out the tortilla), tacos and salads. We plan to keep

a simple menu, but we’ll always consider sensible


Source: Chipotle corporate website. httpJ/ir.chipotle.com/ phoenix.zhtml?c= 19477S&p=irol-homeProlile&t=&id=&. accessed July 20. 20 I 5.

Ch iporle also inspired a wave of imitato rs am on g ne w start-ups. As Forbes maga- zine noted in 2014:

Chipotle is th<.: most influ ential and ga m<.: chang ing r<.:staurant in America. They are spawning co untless imitators … Practi ca lly <.:ve ry cha in in the United States is uying to b<.: the next Chipotl e- or the Chipotlc o f fri ed chick<.:n, th e Chipotle of pizza, the Chipotl e of barbecu e . 10

Chipotle ‘s success also en couraged a flood of venture capital into n ew cas ual din ing sta rt-u ps- a segment that had eme rged as a resu lt of Chipotle ‘s “re inventio n of fast food.” When the sha res of Shake Shack- billed as the “Ch ipotle of bu rg- ers”-began trading o n j an uaty 29, 2015, the c hain of 63 bu rger joints was va lued at $1.8 billion , representing a p rice/ earn ings ratio of 700. In April 2012, Ruby Tuesd ay bought Flo rida-based sta rt-up Lime Fresh Mex ican Grill for $24 million witl1 pla ns to expand the c hain from 15 to 65 outlets- by April 2015 there were o nly 26 o u tle ts .

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Leading l S n·staurant cha ins, 20 I ‘5

Market cap. Tota l outlets March 25, Op. Employees, (%company- Sales, 2014 2015 margin ROA including part-

company Principa l brands owned) ($bn) ($bn) (%) (%) time (,OOOs)

;o;ald’s Corp. McDonald’s 14,278 (1 1) 27.4 94.8 29.0 13.4

Starbucks Corp. Starbucks 11,457 (62) 17.0 73.0 21.0 22.2

yurn! Brands KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco 16.027 (11 ) 13.3 34.4 11.7 12.0 Bell

oarden Olive Garden, 2,259 (97) 6.5 8.6 4.5 1.9 Restaurants LongHorn

Steakho use, + 5 others

(hipotle Chipotle 1,780 ( 1 00) 4.1 21.1 17.3 19.6

wendy’s Co. Wendy’s 5,791 (22) 2.1 4.1 12.2 2.9 panera Bread Panera 1.777 (49) 2.5 4.3 10.9 13.9

Note: Excludes privately owned chains such as Subway, Burger King, and Dunkin’ Donuts. sources: Company websites, company IO·K reports, and financial Times.

Stock analysts were largely postllve about Chipotle’s potential to generate

continu ing va l ue fo r shareh o lders. In M arch 201 5, 18 of th e 30 investment an alysts cover in g Chipotlc recomm ended t he stock as a “bu y” o r “stron g bu y”; th e rema i n –

ing 12 rated the stock as a “hold.” Beyond the brokerage community opinions were more d i verse. Seeking Alpha noted that “Chi potle’s brand i s the source of i ts intan –

g ible asset moat· w ith i t!i uniqu el y customi ze~ ble m e nu struc tu re and u psca le res- taurant environments.” Also i ts susta inably sourced, o rganic produce allowed it to

“attrac t a largely affluent clientel e.” 11 Similarly, NYU Srern I nvestment Manageme m and Resea rc h observed t ha t “CM G ‘s to ta l addressab le marke t is still h u ge,” an d p re- dicted th a t ” Bra n d equity and u ni q u e b u siness m odel sh o uld prese rve prici n g power

and HOI C over rhe long term.”1l Others were less sanguine, p o inting to the dif-

ficulty that Chipotle wou ld have to su sta in i t.’i r emarkable earni ngs growth in th e face of inc r eased c o m p e tition and the c h alle nges of m an agi ng its increased size

TAB LE 2 Leading US restaurant chains specializing in Mexican cuisine , 201 ‘)


Taco Bell Ch ipotle Mexica n Grill DeiTaco Qdoba Mexican Grill Moe’s Southwes t Grill El Po lio Loco On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina Green Burrito Rubio’s Coastal Grill

Source: Companies’ websites.

Headquarters and start year

California, 1962 Colorado. 1993 California, 1964 Colorado, 1995 Georgia, 2000 California, 1980 Texas, 1982 Californ ia, 1980 California, 1993

Approx. no. of outlets

6,500 1,900 547 641 540 410 122 300 159

420 191 537


53 31 26


and compl exity (especially in relation to food sourcing), and the risk of consumers becoming bored with its limited menu.

The re w e re a lso sig ns of shareholders becoming less infatu ated with the man – ageme nt tea m: in 2014, s hareholders voted down a remu nef”a lion package fo r the co-CEOs, Ells and Moran, which wou ld have paid them $285 million over three years.

Appendix 1

TABLE AI Cl11porlv Me\icln (~rill. Inc. f’lnancial data, 2010-2011

2014 201 3 201 2 2011 2010

Sales (Smn) 4,108 3,215 2,731 2,269 1,836 Operating income (Smn) 710 53 3 456 351 288 Net income ($mn) 44 5 327 278 215 179 To tal assets ($mn) 2,546 2,009 1,669 1,425 1,122 Shareholders’ equity ($mn) 2,012 1,538 1,246 1,044 811 Operating margin(%) 17.3 16.6 16.8 15.5 15.7 Net margin (%) 10.8 10.2 10.2 9.5 9.7 Operating income/average total assets(%) 31.2 29.0 29.5 27.6 28.3 Return on average eq ui ty(%) 25.1 23.4 24.3 23.2 23.4 Current ratio 3.6 3.3 2.9 3.4 3.3

Source: Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. 10-K report for 2014.

TABLE A2 Pvrformancv compari.-.;on: Cltipotk vs. 1 um’ Brands, 20 J 1

Chipotle Yum! Brands, Mexican Grill Inc.• Taco Bellb

Number of restaurants 1,780 4 1,000 926 Revenues (Smn) 4,108 13,279 1,452 Gross margin(%) 65.4 72.3 70.3 Operating margin (%) 17.3 11.7 18.5 Net margin (%) 10.8 7.9 n.a. Food, drink, packaging/operating cost (%) 41.8 31.4 36.6 Labor costs/opera ting cost(%) 26.6 22.0 35.1 Occupancy costs /operating cost (%) 6.8 15.4( 12.6< General and admin/operating cost(%) 8.1 12.2 lS.?d Depreciation and amortization/operating cost (%) 3.2 8.7 4.Sd Advertising/operating cos t (%) 1.7 5.1 n.a. Sales/total assets 1.61 1.59 n.a. Sa les/fixed assets 3.71 2.95 n.a. Sales/inventories 26.8 37.7 n.a. I ong-term debt/equity 0 1.92 n.a.

Notes: ‘ I hesc corporate datil relate to Taco Gell, Pizza Hut, and Kr·C. bThese data (unless otherwise indicated) relate to the company-owned restaurants ofYum! Brands'”laco Bell division. ‘ This ratio is for ·occupancy a1’1d other operating expenses: ‘%is ratio is for the Taco Bell division as a whole (both company owned and franchised restaurants). n.a. = not available. Source: Chipotle Mexican Grill and Yum! Brands’lO K reports for 2014.


le man- for the

·e years.

-2010 -1,836 288 179

1,122 811 15.7 9.7

28.3 23.4 3.3

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•chipotlt: Story: How it all started,” hnp://www.chipotlc. 1· conl!en-US/fwVvideos/vidcos.aspx?v=5, accessed July

2(), 2015. z. •Chipotle: The definitive oral hi~tory,” hnp://www.

bloomlx:rg.com/graphics/20 15-chipotle-oral-history/, acces.,cd July 20, 2015.

j. lhid. 4. Ibid.

5 . Ch ipotlc Mexica n Grill Inc. 10-K report l(lr 2014 ( f1led

February 4, 2015).

6. Ibid. 1. “We’re growing quickly,” http://www.ch ipotle.com/

cn-US/caree rs/get_rolling/get_ro lling .as px, accessed J uly 20, 2015.

8. Chipotlc Mexican Grill, Inc. Press Release: First Quarter 2012 Results (April 19, 2012).

9. Chipotle Mexic-.m Grill Inc. 10-K report for 2014 (filed February 4, 2015).

10. “Fast Food Goes Custom,” Forbeslife, http://www. forbes. com/sites/a ndrewbendcr/2014/ 12/31/top-1 O- food-trends-of-2014/?slide=5, accessed July 20, 2015.

11. ”Chipotle Mexican Grill : A Mu lti-Decade Growth Opportun ity,” hl!p://seckingalph<t.com/arriclc/3026106- c hipotlc-mexk:an-gri ll-a-multi-ch::cadt:-g rowth-opportu- nity, accessed j u ly 20, 2015.

’12. “/\ Grea t Entry Poi nt fo r Chipo tk,” http://sccking;tlpha . com/art ide/3020946-a -grc:a t-c:ntry-point-fo r-ch ip o tlt:, accessed Ju ly 20, 2015.

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