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Holy Guacamole: Chipotle Eateries Riding High

Chipotle
CNBC.com
Chipotle

The US economy is moving sideways, the CFO of fast food restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill told CNBC Friday, but the company continues to expand.

This year it expects to open between 120 and 130 new restaurants, which represents a significant uptick. In the last two or three years, Chipotle has added about 100 new eateries each year.

Part of the company’s strategy is to position their new restaurants in “great real estate” locations, said Chipotle’s Jack Hartung.

As of the end of last year, the company, which runs its own restaurants, had nearly 1,000 locations in 35 states.

Hartung said the company has a “food culture,” which promotes dishes—including burritos, tacos and guacamole and chips—made with sustainable ingredients. Among those are avocados, lots of them: The company uses 82,000 daily to make guacamole.

Chipotle also has a policy of promoting from within.

“Ninety percent of our managers come from crew,” he said. “We offer them a career path.”

The company’s market cap, which is at $5.18 billion, has jumped 289 percent since the beginning of the year; in the last two years the stock has been up 200 percent, outperforming the S&P 400 midcap index.