Good (and bad) news broke late this afternoon: On an investor call, Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol announced that the Denver-born chain, which is moving its headquarters from the Mile High City to Newport Beach, California, is also planning a major restructuring. The new direction includes closing at least 55 Chipotle locations in the coming days and months, as well as losing five Pizzeria Locale stores in Cincinnati and Kansas City (Chipotle is Pizzeria Locale’s largest shareholder). Those stores closed today.
From such tumultuous news comes relief. Not only are the two Denver Pizzeria Locale locations remaining open, but the brand is doubling down on its local presence with expansion plans for the very near future. Chef and co-owner Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson says that the Pizzeria Locale team has been working on a bigger strategy for the Mile High City for more than six months now. “There are lots of great things in the works, and we’re moving forward quickly. It’s a difficult thing [to close the Kansas City and Cincinnati stores] because we have a lot of teams there and we loved being in those communities. But it’s not possible at this stage to manage more restaurants outside of Colorado.” According to Mackinnon-Patterson, every staff member at the closing locations has been offered a lateral transfer to a Chipotle store in their home city. “The goal is not to lose anyone,” he says. “But we want to build the momentum in Denver, and we’re really excited for the future.”
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We will continue to report on this story as new developments unfold. But in the meantime, despite Niccol moving Chipotle’s home base outside of Denver, we’re thankful that Mackinnon-Patterson and Pizzeria Locale are staying put.