Chipotle Tests New Fast-Casual Concept

Patrons can order a variety of fresh bowls via a ghost kitchen and third-party delivery service.

February 17, 2023

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.—Chipotle Mexican Grill is testing a new fast-casual restaurant concept called Farmesa. The location is in Santa Monica, California, and the food is prepared via a ghost kitchen. The QSR describes the eatery as a “fresh, bold concept featuring delicious proteins, greens, grains and vegetables that are inspired by Chipotle's food.” The concept will soft open with an abbreviated menu and limited hours before officially rolling out next month.

"One of our strategic objectives is to create or invest in emerging culinary spaces and restaurant concepts that fit within Chipotle's food with integrity mission and make fresh food daily," said Brian Niccol, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our New Ventures team, which was created in 2022, developed a unique restaurant concept that uses classic culinary techniques with flavorful ingredients in a fast casual setting that we're excited to test and learn on before we determine a broader rollout strategy."

Farmesa will serve a variety of bowls ranging in price from $11.95 to $16.95. Each bowl will feature a protein, green or grain, two sides, a choice of five sauces and a topping option. Farmesa will launch with a limited-run menu to help the restaurant team refine various cooking techniques and maximize throughput. The concept's full menu will include dishes like classic Santa Maria-style grilled tri-tip steak, everything spice-crusted Ora King salmon, whipped potatoes, golden beets, sprouted cauliflower and sweet potato chips.

Customers will be able to place an order via onsite kiosks at Kitchen United Mix, a ghost kitchen and restaurant hub technology company that also provides a dine-in setting. Customers can also order online for pickup and delivery through marketplace apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats.

"Launching Farmesa in the Kitchen United Mix food hall in Santa Monica and partnering with third-party partners for pickup or delivery will allow us to reach a large number of consumers, learn quickly and evolve our concept and menu so that we can deliver on our goals before expanding," said Nate Lawton, vice president of new ventures at Chipotle. "We believe there's an opportunity to serve premium, craveable food every day and we're eager to bring this new concept to life."

Kitchen United recently raised $100 million in its Series C funding round. Alimentation Couche-Tard/Circle K was one of many investors.

"We see many commercial opportunities in partnering with Kitchen United as it prepares for considerable scale. We believe this business stands apart from other industry players with its centralized locations, multiformat offerings, experienced management team and mature technology stack—all of which align with Circle K's mission to make our customers' lives a little easier every day as we work together to shape the future of convenience," said Kevin Lewis, chief marketing officer, Alimentation Couche-Tard.

Ghost kitchens can help broaden the reach of foodservice for convenience retailers. Those thinking about establishing ghost kitchens and a reliable delivery platform can read the NACS Magazine article “Ghost Kitchens” to learn how they can be a viable solution to broaden the reach of foodservice.

Forbes recently reported that convenience stores could be taking market share from quick-serve restaurants. The convenience factor is key. “As c-stores upgrade their foodservice offerings to be on par with QSRs, consumers may be more likely to choose the option that is most convenient for them,” writes Forbes. “Speed is one factor, but so is location and additional offerings, like gas or beer. For the latter, the scale will always tip in c-stores’ favor.”

Don’t miss the article “Competing With QSRs” in NACS Magazine, and check out “Pursuit of Healthiness,” which shares how c-stores can take part in the better-for-you food and drink trend to support their customers’ quest for good health.