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How Chipotle transformed itself by upending its approach to management
March 29, 2014 7:30 AM   Subscribe

Hiring, rewarding, and empowering top performers Compared to most fast-food chains, Chipotle favors human skill over rules, robots, and timers. So how did the Mexican-style food chain come to be like this while expanding massively since the 2000s? In part due to promoting from within instead of hiring culinary graduates.Today nearly 96% of hourly managers are the result of internal promotions.
posted by 2manyusernames (61 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wait a minute, are you saying if you treat employees with respect and give them a path to advance and succeed, they reward you by performing well? That's unpossible! Burn the witch!
posted by [insert clever name here] at 7:40 AM on March 29 [46 favorites]


Snarkiness aside, stories like these depress me because they are considered so rare that they make headlines. I have worked in jobs that give the employee autonomy, and those that micromanage, and over and over, those that actually let the employee manage themselves perform better, have happier staff and lower turnover. I've seen company switch from one type of management to the other and just hemorrhage talent. And yet companies that trust people to be adults is somehow news and surprising.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 7:47 AM on March 29 [36 favorites]


I'm curious how the average Chipotle worker differs from, say, the average McDonald's worker in terms of maturity and skill.

In a place like McDs there is a staggering amount of inflexibility in their store operations, mostly because the staff just can't be trusted or completely trained to handle any variation. The operations manual could choke a elephant. But McDonald's also has always had a promote-from-within culture. Even new management hires at HQ need to do time in an actual store before taking their real position.

But I don't get that impression with Chipotle regarding the labor. I never see 15 year-olds running the counter or manning the grills. Do they just have slightly higher criteria when hiring staff?
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:11 AM on March 29 [4 favorites]


That's good and all. And I give Chipotle credit for putting the 'human' in Human Resources. There's a lot to be said for treating staff with respect on several levels. BUT, in my experience there are two types of managers:

1) people who have the appropriate skills to deal with people professionally, trusting them to do their jobs, delegating, and fostering an environment for employee skills to grow. This type can come from either internal or external searches.
2) people who have been around a company long enough (but without really distinguishing themselves) that they pretty much fall into a management position by default because it's their turn. Or to put it another way, they fail upwards. These people typically assume they have the requisite skills solely by dint of the fact that someone gave them the manager's job. They exercise power for it's own sake, can't handle criticism, and really don't have any concept of how to be a leader. Finally, it should be noted that people in this category come almost exclusively from within.

Forgive my cynicism, but when I hear about a company hiring a lot of their managers internally I tend to think a lot of their choices are going to fall into the second category. Hopefully their hiring practices are sharp enough to weed these people out, but that's also quite a rarity.
posted by dry white toast at 8:13 AM on March 29 [10 favorites]


Maybe tonight's finally the night for Inside Chipotle.
posted by Beardman at 8:13 AM on March 29 [3 favorites]


I work for a company that's also HUGE on internal promotions. We went through the recession and made profit without sacrificing our employees or quality.

I think there's a strong correlation between valuing your employees and running a business smartly and with respect
posted by Twain Device at 8:18 AM on March 29 [8 favorites]


Hopefully their hiring practices are sharp enough to weed these people out, but that's also quite a rarity.

One thing from the article I thought was interesting is that the path to frontline manager starts with candidates being nominated by the kitchen crew. Depending on how much of a formality that is, it seems like it could do a lot to keep out the deadwood.

In any case, one certainly gets the impression in most Chipotles that morale is a lot higher than in many other fast food chains.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 8:23 AM on March 29 [9 favorites]


There was time when this hiring strategy was a cornerstone of Warren Buffet's investment techniques before he decided to join in on the great bankster bailout swindle. He would look for companies that retained and promoted from within and had lower CEO pay because he felt those companies had real expertise in what they did.
posted by srboisvert at 8:23 AM on March 29 [11 favorites]


Urgh. This story went viral a few days ago on LinkedIn. I think there is a whole new market for positive stories about business just so people have something impressive to share with their work colleagues.

It does sound like they have a good management style but life for front line workers is no better than average in the fast food industry. In particular they've had huge problems with "accidentally" hiring illegal immigrants (even more than the industry at large). So I'm a little bit skeptical.
posted by miyabo at 8:30 AM on March 29 [2 favorites]


Forgive my cynicism, but when I hear about a company hiring a lot of their managers internally I tend to think a lot of their choices are going to fall into the second category. Hopefully their hiring practices are sharp enough to weed these people out, but that's also quite a rarity.

You're falling into the cynic's trap where the perfect is the enemy of the good.

Sure there is a chance of failing up but is it greater or less than the alternatives?
posted by srboisvert at 8:30 AM on March 29 [5 favorites]


In particular they've had huge problems with "accidentally" hiring illegal immigrants (even more than the industry at large).

Do they pay and treat them decently?
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:33 AM on March 29 [28 favorites]


There's nothing worse from an HR perspective than an org that repeatedly makes its staff become "acting director" or "interim manager" but refuses to consider them as a candidate for the position.

I left a major arts org that didn't have an appetite for promoting from within (not the reason I left, btw). In the 12 months after I left 14 out of the 18 employees in my department left or retired, almost all of them were temporarily advanced to a higher position (often for periods of 2 years) at one point or another before being passed over by outside candidates.

The saddest part is the company was amazing at hiring top notch employees (the org had an impeccable reputation) but then couldn't trust them once they were hired, [insert clever name here]'s comments really ring true to me. Fortunately my current job gives me 99.9% autonomy, so far the only downside I've seen is that if roles aren't clearly established (as I assume they would be at Chipotle) then in fully autonomous orgs you can start to wear more hats than is reasonable. I'd rather have too many hats than no say in my future.
posted by furtive at 8:36 AM on March 29 [6 favorites]


I have worked in jobs that give the employee autonomy, and those that micromanage, and over and over, those that actually let the employee manage themselves perform better, have happier staff and lower turnover.

As an aside, I suspect there may be a high correlation to this phenomena with parenting styles.
posted by fairmettle at 8:41 AM on March 29 [5 favorites]


>In particular they've had huge problems with "accidentally" hiring illegal immigrants (even more than the industry at large).

Do they pay and treat them decently?


I believe so. Until they sacked everyone en masse.
posted by hoyland at 8:43 AM on March 29 [1 favorite]


Forgive my cynicism, but when I hear about a company hiring a lot of their managers internally I tend to think a lot of their choices are going to fall into the second category. Hopefully their hiring practices are sharp enough to weed these people out, but that's also quite a rarity.

Part of the problem here is that when a company promotes someone to a manager slot, the poor sap often gets thrown into the deep end and has to figure out for themselves how to be a manager. Even someone who wants to do a good job is placed at a big disadvantage. Chipotle seems to have discovered that a little formal training at that point can yield a big return on investment.
posted by Longtime Listener at 9:09 AM on March 29 [4 favorites]


Now we just need to know the secret of their cold soggy flavorless burritos.
posted by w0mbat at 9:15 AM on March 29 [6 favorites]


Do they pay and treat them decently?

If they did, don't you think legal employees would apply for the same jobs and take them? I have nothing against illegal immigrants but when an employer systematically hires them, it indicates they're underpaying and mistreating their staff.
posted by miyabo at 9:23 AM on March 29 [2 favorites]


Oh, w0mbat, you just have to know what to ask for: quesadilla burrito, properly double-grilled. A hot gooey crispy shell wrapping grilled ingredients with the center just cool enough that your guacamole doesn't get cooked. :D
posted by introp at 9:23 AM on March 29


1) people who have the appropriate skills to deal with people professionally, trusting them to do their jobs, delegating, and fostering an environment for employee skills to grow. This type can come from either internal or external searches.
2) people who have been around a company long enough (but without really distinguishing themselves) that they pretty much fall into a management position by default because it's their turn. Or to put it another way, they fail upwards. These people typically assume they have the requisite skills solely by dint of the fact that someone gave them the manager's job. They exercise power for it's own sake, can't handle criticism, and really don't have any concept of how to be a leader. Finally, it should be noted that people in this category come almost exclusively from within.
Back when I worked a big corporate job, my impression was just the opposite. The worst kind of managers were the professional managers who came from outside who had no real understanding of the work being done.

There were also plenty of internal promotions into management that were clearly instrumented to get the person out of the way and give them something productive to do. Peter Principle promotions, if you will. Sometimes those people had no real interest in management and were just not good enough to do the job below them, but they were too hard to get rid of.

But even those people were a notch above professional managers with no background in the field. I would much rather be managed by a person of average skill who understands what I'm going through than someone who is excellent at delegating work and keeping tabs on everybody, but doesn't understand how it feels to be doing the grunt work.
posted by deathpanels at 9:41 AM on March 29 [8 favorites]


Chipotle is popular enough right now (seriously, have you been in a Chipotle lately?) that they could easily open another 500 locations in the next week and not exhaust demand. They don't do that, though, because they are very particular about making sure a team is ready to run a new opening. If a team isn't ready, they can't go. It's a very good business model but it means they have to grow at a slightly slower pace than some investors want.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:48 AM on March 29 [2 favorites]


Chipotle: show me how you're supporting local farms and humane slaughter, and I will eat your food.
posted by uraniumwilly at 10:13 AM on March 29


Given a choice between a Chipotle with a professional, trained staff and a Chipotle where the staff and clientele are all undergrads from the local university, I'll go to the college Chipotle every time. Pros sell product by the book. College students make tasty and fun meals for their peers, and the tasty and fun spill over to the non-peer customers.

Speaking of fast-casual dining, does anyone here have any insight into the new OC-based pizza chain Pieology?
posted by infinitewindow at 10:19 AM on March 29 [3 favorites]


While I am only judging by photographs I am an expert in this field and that place looks marvelous by CA standards, though probably just good-but-pedestrian by real standards.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:36 AM on March 29 [1 favorite]


I will cheerlead Chipotle's love affair with their employees when they sign a contract with a union and the starting pay is above state minimum wage.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:00 AM on March 29 [15 favorites]


"[Chipotle] looks marvelous by CA standards"

Sorry to derail the thread ever-so-slightly, but can you explain this a bit further?
posted by raihan_ at 11:01 AM on March 29


I think that was in reference to Pieology.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:15 AM on March 29 [2 favorites]


hey uraniumwilly, I may not be the most informed of the bunch, especially in this group of Vulcans... but I seem to recall Chipotle has been in headlines for a few years or so, with efforts to improve the responsible sourcing of their meat, pork especially.. here is a random article, chosen carefully from a good five seconds of careful Google searching, heh. there's lots more out there. I am not competent to voice an expert opinion of any sort.. but this seems legit no??
posted by anguspodgorny at 12:10 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


Chipotle supporting local farms and buying humanely raised animals is sort of their schtick.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:13 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


This isn't a good development. If workers are happy with their managers and know they can become managers, they are less likely to unionize or sieze control of the restaurant.
posted by michaelh at 12:29 PM on March 29


I feel like I've become Metafilter's resident former Chipotle employee. I worked there right out of college. Desperately needed a job (Philosophy Majors Unite!), went to eat there one day and saw a hiring sign, inquired, and started wrapping burritos a couple days later.

It's food service, and the job comes along with all the crap that entails, so it's important not to paint too rosy a picture. The work is hard and it's a very tight run ship, meeting all the requirements of running a cooperate chain that promises replicability across stores. But for the most part, morale is pretty high. Every manager I had started from the bottom and moved up. If you stick around, you will be promoted, from burrito wrapping to guac making to the grill to management. If you want to move up, you absolutely can, no matter what your background, and this possibility definitely informed the morale of the place. People from cooperate show up every once in a while and interview all the employees about how they're getting along, what their goals with the company are, etc. - something pretty unheard of for your basic fast food service job, as far as I know. Furthermore, they will help you advance. If you want to move up and don't speak English, for example, they will pay the bill to let you learn.

I don't work there anymore, but I still eat there sometimes, which anyone who has worked in food service knows speaks volumes. The advertising about sourcing is true. Everything is made from scratch. The tomatoes in the pico are picked literally two days before they come to the store.

The place isn't perfect obviously. But having spent the years since I worked there working for do-gooder non-profits, I still speak more highly of Chipotle than most places I've worked, which I think is sayin' something. Favor quality over variety, treat everyone - employees, farmers, etc - well, and you can still be really successful, more successful even, is a model we need more of.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:31 PM on March 29 [93 favorites]


Yeah, as far as the meat goes that was an obsession for the founder, and he basically chose that battle to have with investors (and to create demand for it with heartstrings-tugging commercials of a softer-than-PETA variety) which is inevitable. CostCo's CEO chooses to focus on staff pay and constantly has to prove to his shareholders that it reduces turnover, etc. I'd like Chipotle to move in that direction but the companies are somewhat comparable to me. Chipotle:Taco Bell::CostCo:Sam's Club
posted by lordaych at 12:32 PM on March 29 [4 favorites]




I don't work there anymore, but I still eat there sometimes, which anyone who has worked in food service knows speaks volumes.

Hi, yes it does, says MetaFilter's resident former McDonalds employee (4 loooong months in 1981) who hasn't been in one of their stores under pain of torture in 30 years. Those managers were horrible to their rank-and-file help.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:09 PM on March 29 [4 favorites]


Pepsi Blue Corn Tortilla.
posted by ColdChef at 1:25 PM on March 29 [4 favorites]


Just be careful of the chips. Tasty, and great for scooping up a bowl or burrito leavings, but that 4oz bag is 570 calories.

Chipotle: show me how you're supporting local farms and humane slaughter, and I will eat your food.

Chipotle Ingredients Statement
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:08 PM on March 29 [2 favorites]


Also, grab a couple lemon slices from the beverage bar to spritz on your food.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:10 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this. I just wrote a blog post about how this hiring approach implements Taoist principles.

Everyone has missed one of the key factors in Chipotle's growth, however. This was the first chain I saw that sold real tequila margaritas, something special here in Oregon (which has a very tight liquor control board).
posted by msalt at 2:58 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


I love me some Chipotle, but my SO and I have noticed every time we've gone in the past year or so, the workers have been more... distracted? Or maybe they're just not paying attention? But lately the typical order seems to go something like:

"What can I get you?"
"Veggie tacos for here, please"
"Sorry, did you say that was for here or to go?"
"For here."
"And that was a burrito?"
"No, veggie tacos."
"And what kind of meat would you like on that?"
*facepalm*
posted by buriednexttoyou at 3:01 PM on March 29 [2 favorites]


Hm. I'm trying to jump-start this empowerment culture where I work and it's been a struggle. The main problem is one of trust. You almost have to have this culture before the employees buy in, and you need employee buy-in before you can get this culture. I think it's working, slowly. The results are without question, better.

The OTHER problem, though, is administrative/legal. What they don't say outright is that this involves passing over or getting rid of people who suck. That's not as easy as it sounds. You need documentation of poor or mediocre performance and you need to be able to show that others are better when held to the same standards. Hovering over people documenting their performance can create a culture of fear and appear to be "micromanaging," which is the exact opposite of what I'm trying to do.

I'm succeeding only to the extent that I'm a pretty good cheerleader/salesperson and nobody questions my motives or integrity.
posted by ctmf at 3:19 PM on March 29 [6 favorites]


This would be easier at a fast-food joint, where you have a lot of staff and a lot of turnover. You simply need to identify the top performers and move them up.

Do you really need to document poor or mediocre performance to NOT promote someone? And what's the alternative, straight seniority?
posted by msalt at 4:38 PM on March 29


Collateral hires.
posted by jpe at 6:21 PM on March 29


Chipotle is fast food. Most fast food managers are hired from the ranks. I smell astroturf.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:19 PM on March 29 [2 favorites]


msalt, not specifically each time. But over time, you have to be able to show there is some objective standard that the ones who are getting promoted are meeting and that the ones who are not, are not meeting.

Maybe in fast food you can hire/fire whomever you want at any time. I'm in government, and strongly unionized. (Which is a good thing, a very good thing. But it does mean I need to justify things like that sometimes.)
posted by ctmf at 8:51 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


It's not just "hiring from within the ranks" but a system of employee mentorship and rewarding managerial mentors rather than people who manage high-dollar stores. At least that's what I got out of reading the article linked in the post.
posted by muddgirl at 9:04 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


Exactly. That leaped out at me -- compensation not on store sales, but on developing talent.

And it makes sense -- things like the affluence of a neighborhood or economic trends will influence sales regardless of the manager, but organizing and training a constantly changing staff is a key for any fast food place.
posted by msalt at 12:27 AM on March 30 [2 favorites]


Great news - I can aspire to manage a burrito place!
posted by thelonius at 1:57 AM on March 30


I've wanted to manage a Chipotle ever since I was 34.
posted by rhizome at 2:05 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


Oh, w0mbat, you just have to know what to ask for: quesadilla burrito, properly double-grilled. A hot gooey crispy shell wrapping grilled ingredients with the center just cool enough that your guacamole doesn't get cooked. :D

Speaking of chipotle and managers, i have repeatedly heard about this mythical beast online.

I finally decided to go in and try one.

So i order it, and the guy on the line is perfectly ok with doing it and starts slapping the stuff together to put it on the press.

Then the manager pokes her head over, having heard me order it and goes "What? You can't get that"

"I'm totally ok with paying for a quesadilla and a burrito if that's how i need to do it, i just really want a burrito made with a crispy quesadilla wrapped around it"

"Yea, you can't do that." turns to employee "you can't make him that".

I wish i could say i stomped out in disgust and never returned, but i was fucking hungry. God do i hate the chipotle near my office though, every single time i go in some really dumb shit like that happens like getting stuck behind someone whose card wont scan while they try and scan it 4000 times before just manually entering the number, or the receipt printer breaks, or just some bizarre "oh you can't do that like that" thing like the above. I miss the taco del mar bad, and of the two nearby local shops one is incredibly overpriced and the other served me spoiled hot sauce and a burrito filled with burned grill scrapings at one edge.

I love me some Chipotle, but my SO and I have noticed every time we've gone in the past year or so, the workers have been more... distracted? Or maybe they're just not paying attention? But lately the typical order seems to go something like ...

Betcha $10 they're either required to ask those questions, or have cynically learned to double down on double checking because the alternative of occasionally getting something wrong is way too irritating to deal with.

I've worked in fast food, and that's the kind of thing i started doing without thinking because of how incredibly tired i was of dealing with how entitledly irate people would get if say, they were with a friend and ordered something for here when their friend ordered everything to go and i bagged both of their things up to go.

I could also write a long rant about how managers are hit or miss, but shift leads/assistant managers seem to have a 9/10 chance of being upwards-failing misanthropic self loathing assholes who put in their 3+ years and just want to watch the world burn. they're generally a mixture of dwight schrute and a sociopath who burns kittens with a barbecue lighter for fun after hours, but that's neither here nor there.
posted by emptythought at 2:13 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


Exactly. That leaped out at me -- compensation not on store sales, but on developing talent.

This is the part that's bothering me. It sounds good in theory, gross sales is a poor metric by itself. But any metric can be gamed. I guess I'd have to see how the rubber meets the road, as they say.

The managers are measured by making other managers? How do we know they're making good ones? Those managers are measured by making... more managers.

Seems like the novel thing here is the peer nomination process. I can see how that can make sure poor performers get weeded out. I can also see a thousand ways that can devolve into clique-ish in-crowd behavior or back-stabby competition at best, and an EEO nightmare at worst.
posted by ctmf at 1:50 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


I miss the old Baja Fresh. They've not been the same since Wendy's bought them.
posted by winna at 2:30 PM on March 30


Aw, you kids! Your mod-Mex fast food places can't hold a candle to the old Macheezmo Mouse. Now THAT was a restaurant....
posted by msalt at 4:49 PM on March 30 [2 favorites]


I love me some Chipotle, but my SO and I have noticed every time we've gone in the past year or so, the workers have been more... distracted?

Do you live in Colorado?
posted by empath at 5:27 PM on March 30 [2 favorites]


I can't believe anyone else remembers Macheezmo Mouse.

One of my friends once drove me around town for a solid hour promising the very best hole in the wall Mexican restaurant ... and when we arrived it turned out to be Baja Fresh.
posted by miyabo at 7:45 PM on March 30 [2 favorites]


All this and no one pulled out this key quote:
Hey, I started out mopping the floor just like you guys. But now... now I'm washing lettuce. Soon I'll be on fries; then the grill. In a year or two, I'll make assistant manager, and that's when the big bucks start rolling in.
posted by k5.user at 7:54 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


I love me some Chipotle, but my SO and I have noticed every time we've gone in the past year or so, the workers have been more... distracted? Or maybe they're just not paying attention? But lately the typical order seems to go something like:

"What can I get you?"
"Veggie tacos for here, please"
"Sorry, did you say that was for here or to go?"
"For here."
"And that was a burrito?"
"No, veggie tacos."
"And what kind of meat would you like on that?"
*facepalm*

I've always experienced something that seems more horrifyingly detached. Mind you, I worked in food service at one point, and I was blazed most of the time on sub-optimal marijuana which required regular trips to the car to maintain a steady buzz, but I could talk to people and I listened to them like a MOTHERFUCKER. But that's me.

What I get is this -- I've already been trained for a good decade to not ever volunteer more than the minimum amount of information which is why I don't mention "to go" or anything more than is asked of me.

"What would you like? [puts tortilla on steamer]"

"I'll have a carnitas burrito."
[Steamer is still going, so they decide to pre-cache their information stack on my order]

"White or brown rice?" [this is a new part]

"White" [usually, less arsenic, moar fluff taste]

"Black or pinto beans?"

I say "Black" or "Pinto" [depending on whether I want more protein and less sodium and less painful post-burrito gas, or if I want pinto beans, which is 95% of the time]

[tortilla is ready to RAWK]
"OK, white or brown rice?"

"White."

[scooping rice]
"Black or pinto beans?"

"Pinto."

[grabs bean scoop]
"What kind of beans? I'm sorry."

"Pinto."

"What kind of meat?"

"Carnitas."

Now, a couple of years ago I whined about this literally on Chipotle's page because I experience it all over the state and it's such a terrible slight to endure, to think that they surely have picked up on how to properly parse an order in pieces and not make the customer repeat themselves. It's OK to be totally sober or totally stoned and not really have the "stack space" for dealing with the same monotonous items being ordered with slight variations for hundreds of people in a day. Just ask me for the information as you need it, on demand. JIT!

Now, I am at peace with it and I don't think anything negatively of them,and any time they realize they're doing this (not that I point it out, they just catch it sometimes) and apologize, I say "you're fine" or "it's all good!" or something, because they are fine, it is all good. I like the food.

Qdoba is like this too. I started down this road when it was called Zeteca and it's the same exact experience -- it just feels like gaslighting if you're already kind of nuts and over-think a burrito full of pinto beans every fucking minute of the day, like THIS BEHAVIOR MUST'VE BEEN IDENTIFIED AND CORPORATELY DISCUSSED AT SOME POINT, WHAT MENTAL SORCERY MINDFUCKERY IS GOING ON RIGHT HERE
posted by lordaych at 9:56 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


more than the minimum amount of information

Shit, "carnitas" is a modifier of "burrito" so maybe I should wait 'til the meat part of the journey before volunteering that information.

But NOBODY ever just says "I'll have a burrito."

I'd almost feel like I'd be an asshole for saying that by itself.

And I'm not judging, even if this sounds like white guy complaining about [in my state] predominantly Latino people making my food, I'm trying to be self aware here, and in the rare occasion where I run into a language barrier (always newer employees, who quickly pick everything up within a couple of weeks if you're a regular and pay attention to such things) they always appreciate it if you try to meet them halfway with EspaƱol even if you're far worse at speaking Spanish than they are with English.

In a different mood or a few years back I might think to myself something that my mom ingrained in me, "even if you're just slinging burritos you should try to be the awesomest burrito slinger ever and be awesome at asking me for things only one time" but the burritos are always good and the line moves quickly, and the folks who flesh out their English on the job are in fact trying their best and making me good food in the process. That's why I'm here. Hell, I realized today that if you're a late riser, it's perfectly OK to get a Chipotle burrito on your way to work, leave it sitting on your desk for a couple of hours, and then eat that fuckin' lukewarm burrito. It's still the sort of eveningwear a cat would wear, err, during the evening.
posted by lordaych at 10:07 PM on March 31


I think they do this on purpose, to make you feel more in charge or something? Like, I'm so obsequious and ready to perform your every whim that you almost have to stand over me moving my hands like a puppet.

Good god, I fucking hate that. I haven't been to a Subway in years because they are incapable of making it a short interaction and just hand you a fucking sandwich. I made it a game and tried to make it as simple as possible for them by making rules: I want everything except things that start with an "O".

Them: You want onions?
Me: Does it start with an O?
...
Them: Oil and vinegar?

I even literally wrote it out on a piece of paper and handed it to them. They asked each thing again. "This says you want green peppers?" It's got to be intentional, maximizing the interaction with the customer.

I need a lunch joint with no menu. Ten bucks, you get what you get, no choices. Make it something different each day and make it good, I'll be there every day.
posted by ctmf at 10:15 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


The burritos also keep well in your backpack of privilege for hours. I literally have one of those. /nerd
posted by lordaych at 10:16 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


That actually makes sense ctmf. OK, I have it all together now -- from the imaginary training video:

"To make the guest's experience feel more personal, keep them constantly engaged. If you're waiting for something to heat up or are replenishing an ingredient tub, ask them for more information on their order. You are allowed to ask them how they are doing today, but that is all. Everything else is controversial and will undermine your objective, to provide a serene burrito consumption experience.

Just talk about their order so that it feels like time is flying and you are engaged with delivering a perfect order. Because 20 seconds of steaming a tortilla is an eternity if you're important and entitled to immediacy like our customers. However, do not rely on your memory of anything you may have asked. Ask them for everything as you go. The customer's perception of perfection in the final product is the only thing in this world that is worth living for; if they are annoyed with you, they will still enjoy the burrito, because we lace the rice with a small speed ball like polydrug blend. Do not put the wrong thing on a burrito, or they will attack you personally and smirk to the guy next to them and be all NYUHHHH like Louis CK's privileged valley girl impersonation."

Something like that
posted by lordaych at 10:22 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


I made it a game and tried to make it as simple as possible for them by making rules: I want everything except things that start with an "O".

If you weren't watching them make your sandwich, they'd probably have spit in it.
posted by empath at 10:23 PM on March 31


Now I'm imagining a scene from the next teenagers who contaminate your food movie where they have a bottle of evil sauce reserved for problem customers.

"Oh, you wanted oil and vinegar?" [internal dialogue] "How about some...piss and vinegar?" <squirt>

[customer returns from table]
"This sandwich tastes funny. I think you forgot the oil."

"Oh yeah, oil." [internal dialogue] "How about some...olive oil. With opium oil. And oil of olay. And orgasm oil. And also, hash oil."

[customer returns]
"I don't appreciate having to come back here the last time, but I have to say, that was the best god damned burrito I've ever eaten in my life."

"Dude, we don't make burritos."

[customer]
"Well then. I'll take 2 more to go."
posted by lordaych at 10:34 PM on March 31


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