The US-based chain opened its first restaurant in London last May, and has so far held off on any further expansion in this country.
However, the group – which currently operates 1,100 sites in the US with up to three new sites opening every week in that country – says it has been exploring potential sites to expand its UK business.
“We’re in the process of looking at other sites, both in the UK and France,” said restaurateur Jacob Sumner, who heads up Chipotle’s UK business.
“We’ve literally visited every inch of England, and all the university cities. We definitely have more sites coming in the greater London area, and we’re exploring the rest of the UK,” he told BigHospitality.
However, Sumner said there is no set timeline as yet for Chipotle’s UK expansion.
“Our principal market is the US, where we’re growing 120-130 sites every year. In the UK, we’re taking it from a low-risk standpoint. We want to make our one restaurant really beautiful and make sure we get it right before we open more sites.”
Chipotle opened its first UK restaurant in May 2010 on London’s Charing Cross Road.
Serving burritos, burrito bowls, tacos and salads, Chipotle is known in the US for its commitment to serving fast food made from sustainably sourced ingredients, and prepared via traditional cooking methods.
Steve Ells, founder of Chipotle, said: “We think the prospects are very good for Chipotle in London and around Europe.
“The food culture in Europe is based on local, sustainable and artisanal foods, which are all core values of Chipotle and we have been instrumental in bringing this kind of thinking to fast food in the US.”
ShopHouse Asian concept
The group will also be expanding its business in the US to apply its Chipotle concept to Asian cuisine, with the opening of ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen.
The first ShopHouse is set to open in Washington DC by summer 2011, although there are no current plans to bring the concept to the UK.