So Long, Chipotle's Burger Restaurant Most of Us Never Tried

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Chipotle's Tasty Made
Chipotle's Tasty Made Credit: Business Wire

Chipotle Mexican Grill is out of the burger business, at least for now.

The company, already quite busy trying to turn around its Mexican chain, closed its lone Ohio burger restaurant after less than 18 months.

The Tasty Made restaurant in Lancaster, Ohio, officially closed Wednesday. It featured a limited menu of hamburgers, fries, shakes and sodas meant to harken back to the early days of American hamburger joints.

Chipotle, in a statement, did not completely abandon the idea of returning to the burger business.

"While we liked the concept and the delicious food at Tasty Made, the economics were not what we wanted them to be in Lancaster, Ohio, so we have decided to close that restaurant," Chipotle said Thursday.

The closure of Tasty Made comes just before Brian Niccol becomes Chipotle's next CEO, joining the company March 5 after a successful run at Taco Bell.

It's not the first time Chipotle has abandoned a project meant to take the chain beyond its burrito roots. In March 2017, Chipotle shuttered its underperforming ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen, which opened in 2011 and ended its run with 15 locations. It's also not Chipotle's first brush with burgers. McDonald's invested in Chipotle in 1998, helping it grow, before divesting its remaining stake in 2006.

Tasty Made opened in October 2016, roughly a year after Chipotle began suffering from a string of foodborne illness outbreaks and negative publicity at its core chain that sent its sales and stock price plummeting.

Chipotle already made tweaks meant to improve the results at Tasty Made. In September 2017, it announced a partnership with Richard Blais, a chef, restaurateur and cookbook author, who helped modify the concept, which remained a burger joint with basics made without artificial ingredients.

Chipotle called Blais "a great partner," saying "his talents quickly elevated the quality of the food at Tasty Made. The decision to close is in no way a reflection on Richard or his capabilities as a chef and restaurateur, and we would certainly consider working with him again if there was an opportunity to do so that made sense."

Tasty Made's 30 employees can apply for positions at Chipotle, which has locations in Ohio including one in Lancaster.

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