BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Big names in the fast southwest-style food game are battling it out for your loyalty after food scares dropped sales at Chipotle Mexican Grill.
An outbreak of E. coli across many of their chains dropped the company’s stocks, and sales in the restaurant’s stores plunged over 30 percent at established stores. In an attempt to right the ship, the chain shut down all of its 2000 stores on Monday through lunch so all employees could watch educational videos on the company’s new health and safety guidelines.
The temporary closure will surely be felt in the monthly sales, but competitors in the market looked to capitalize on the closure. Moe’s Southwest Grill took a direct shot at Chipotle on Twitter, tweeting out a video of a dancing burrito, saying, “We’ll be open all day!”
In a nod to customers who may have wanted lunch at Chipotle but were out of luck on Monday, Chipotle offered all customers a text coupon for a free burrito. In order to qualify for the burrito, customers must text the word “raincheck” to 888-222. A reply from the company within the week will grant that customer a free burrito.
But the question remains: Will America trust Chipotle again after several unsanitary outbreaks? The company is working to prove it truly has changed, as referenced by its CEO on Twitter.
The group announced it will give $10 million to its distributors to help them improve safe food practices, but also overhauled its own food safety program with new rules and regulations for all employees.
The company’s competitors would rather consumers continue abandoning ship, however. Moe’s has been pushing its coupon to all for buy one, get one free burritos.
Victory in the battle of the burritos will not be decided for some time. In the past, it has taken up to a year for public trust to return to a brand like Chipotle, but free food is always a way into the consumer’s heart.