Chipotle ups bet on fast-casual pizza

Anita Balakrishnan
Pizzeria Locale in Boulder, Colo.
Source: Pizzeria Locale | Facebook

Chipotle Mexican Grill plans to expand its fast-casual pizza chain, Pizzeria Locale, to Kansas City, marking the first outside of Colorado, it confirmed Thursday.

"We just signed a deal for the first Pizzeria Locale in Kansas City, which will be the third overall and the first outside of Denver," Chris Arnold, communications director of Chipotle, said. "We haven't addressed expansion plans for Pizzeria Locale beyond that."

Bringing the fast-casual model to more customers will continue to be the company's "primary focus," said Chipotle President and Co-CEO Montgomery Moran in an October earnings call.

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"More than ever, I believe this is the new fast-food model," Moran said. "Increasingly, consumers want what Chipotle is doing, and they seem to be turn it away from traditional fast food in favor of better food and a more compelling experience."

Pizzeria Locale offers a similar experience to Chipotle Mexican Grill, allowing customers to select toppings for a baked-to-order individual pizza. The pizzeria is one of two fledgling restaurant chains operated by Chipotle, who also owns ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchens in Washington, D.C.

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The Pizzeria Locale expansion comes just ahead of Chipotle's fourth-quarter earnings announcement, which will occur on Tuesday afternoon.

CNBC's Katie Little contributed to this report.