Chipotle pledges to hire 10,000 workers as it reopens dining rooms

Key Points
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill has pledged to hire 10,000 workers over the next several months.
  • The chain's "Chipotlanes" require 50% more labor.
  • Millions of restaurant workers have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
Customers wait outside of a Chipotle restaurant as they wait to enter in order to place an order as Florida continues with its Phase 1 of reopening the state during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on May 19, 2020, in Aventura, FL.
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Chipotle Mexican Grill has pledged to hire 10,000 workers over the next several months.

In May, the company kicked off a campaign to drive hiring, resulting in about 8,000 new employees to date. Chipotle said that it has received close to 700,000 job applications this year. It now has more than 85,000 workers nationwide.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the chain has been opening new locations and constructing drive-thru lanes for online orders only. Later this month, it plans to open its 100th "Chipotlane," which require 50% more employees than a traditional location, thanks to higher volumes of digital orders.

"Our Chipotlanes, out of the gate, are 5% to 10% higher than a traditional new restaurant opening, and some as high as 30%," said Scott Boatwright, chief restaurant officer of Chipotle.

Chipotle had planned to open 150 to 165 net new restaurants in 2020, about half of which would have Chipotlanes, but the chain withdrew that outlook due to the pandemic.

The summer months typically spark hiring for restaurants, but pledges like Chipotle's arrived this year after millions of restaurant workers lost their jobs due to the pandemic. The U.S. unemployment rate is 11.1%.

Boatwright said that the chain is experiencing all-time low turnover at the crew and manager level. Chipotle has paid out about $30 million in bonuses and is hiking its hourly wage for employees who worked at its restaurants during the pandemic.

While some fast-food chains have announced plans to hire thousands of new workers, the surge of new infections in some parts of the country and subsequent reclosure of restaurants could stop those plans. McDonald's, for example, expected to hire 260,000 workers as it reopened its dining rooms. The chain has since paused reopening dining rooms for three weeks due to new cases.  

Shares of Chipotle rose more than 2% in afternoon trading. The stock, which has a market value of $31 billion, is up 34% this year.

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