Restaurants

After blowout earnings, Chipotle's new CEO says this is job number one

Key Points
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill's stock is on pace for its second-best day ever, behind its IPO debut in 2006.
  • New CEO Brian Niccol fuels investors' optimism with his vision for Chipotle's future.
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Chipotle's new CEO on the chain's No. 1 priority

After a three-year sales slump, investors are betting that Chipotle Mexican Grill could finally be headed for a turnaround as a new CEO takes the helm.

On the back of menu price hikes, Chipotle posted better-than-expected earnings, sending shares soaring. In trading Thursday, shares jumped more than 23 percent, its second-best day ever, behind its IPO debut in 2006, when its share price doubled.

"Job number one is to remind people why they love Chipotle," CEO Brian Niccol told CNBC's Kate Rogers in his first television interview since joining the burrito chain in March. "I think there [are] opportunities to use what we have and present it in new forms, new varieties, to get people re-engaged with what they love about Chipotle."

Niccol established a reputation for the whimsical in menu innovation when he was CEO of Taco Bell. However, investors shouldn't expect any major changes to Chipotle's food in the near term.

But he said items like breakfast burritos are not out of the question.

"There is opportunity to bring in new flavors as well," he said on "Squawk on the Street." "One thing that's great is we got carnitas and chicken that people absolutely crave."

He said the restaurant chain could present these items in ways that Chipotle currently doesn't offer.

Chipotle has tested a number of menu items in its test kitchen in New York, including nachos, which could see a national rollout.

In addition to ingenuity in the kitchen, Niccol has been a big proponent of adopting technology. At Taco Bell, he introduced mobile order and pay as well as in-store kiosks.

On the conference call Wednesday, Niccol said Chipotle will be focusing heavily in these areas, but he declined to comment further. He told investors he would share more detail about Chipotle's plan during a call ahead of the second-quarter earnings report.