Chipotle Mexican Grill Launching Aggressive Expansion in Canadian Market: Interview

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Chipotle Mexican Grill plans to aggressively expand its footprint in the Canadian market.

The brand currently operates in both Ontario and British Columbia with 25 restaurants in Canada.

“We have plans to open additional locations in both provinces in 2022,” said Anat Davidzon, Managing Director of Chipotle Canada.

The first location in Canada was launched in downtown Toronto in August 2008.

Image: Chipotle

“We’ve been operating in Canada for 13 years and the brand has been very successful, given even the fact that we haven’t done a lot of marketing activities in Canada but still people bought into our messaging and what we stand for,” said Davidzon.

Anat Davidzon

“The rising popularity of Chipotle’s real food in Canada is what we believe there will be a large opportunity in this market.

“This year we’re going to maintain our existing market trade area which is southern Ontario and the Greater Vancouver Area. I would say eight to 10 restaurants (will open). Similarly, to other brands we’re all feeling from the tension and challenges that COVID has brought to us. Supply chain and so on. But the plan is to have between eight to 10 restaurants open this year.”

She said the company is focusing on urban locations in Toronto as well as outside the city in areas like Mississauga. In BC, the GVA remains a target market for the brand as well as looking to expand outside of Vancouver in areas such as Richmond and potentially Surrey.

Image: Chipotle

“We already have a presence in these markets but it’s just expanding on our reach,” added Davidzon.

She said the brand will eventually expand to other markets in Canada such as Alberta.

Davidzon said Chipotle restaurants range in size from 2,200 to 2,400 square feet. In areas like downtown Toronto or downtown Vancouver, it can accommodate space in the range of 1,700 to 1,800 square feet. 

“We have the flexibility to operate different formats off Chipotle,” she added.

“Similar to most brands, it’s always a good combination to have residential and commercial activity or a daytime population in any location.”

Image: Chipotle Mobile Pick Up Shelf
Image: Chipotle

In the fall, the company opened its first Chipotlane in Canada in Port Coquitlam, BC – the brand’s first drive-thru digital order pickup lane.

The lanes allow customers to place their order in advance through the Chipotle app or Chipotle website and simply drive up to grab their meal.

“Chipotle is a leader in the digital environment, especially in the restaurant industry. The Chipotlane provides a real fast and convenient experience to the guest and from our experience also increases our restaurant sales and market compared to a traditional restaurant. We’re definitely seeing an increase in our guest frequency in those Chipotlanes that we have,” said Davidzon.

She said the brand is also definitely looking at increasing its footprint with Chipotlanes in the Canadian market. 

As of the fall, Chipotle had about 280 Chipotlanes located in the U.S. Chipotle was founded in 1993 in Denver, Colorado, by culinary chef Steve Ells on the premise that real food should be accessible to all. There are close to 2,900 restaurants in the US, Canada and Europe.

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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