After a Rough Year, Chipotle Hopes Consumers Will Return for FREE Food
OK, now that I have your attention…
Chipotle had a rough year last year. The Mexican restaurant chain contended with multiple food poisoning and norovirus outbreaks, and the company’s stocks took a beating. Now, the company wants to thank loyal customers and regain the confidence of others through freebies.
Chipotle, which serves local, sustainably-grown and non-GMO food, says 2015 is behind them now, and to make amends with the public, it’s giving away some free food (hopefully free of any harmful bacteria).
The chain has doubled the amount of free food its establishments can give away to customers, said co-CEO Monty Moran during an in-person interview Wednesday at the ICR investment conference. Exactly how much food is given away is up to each individual location, and managers were given permission to create their own campaigns. 
The company also announced that on Feb. 8, it will shut down all of its 2,000 restaurants for several hours for a massive food-safety meeting. After that, Chipotle will launch an intensive campaign focused on ensuring the media that its food-safety problems are a thing of the past, reminding customers why they started eating there in the first place – because their food rocks.
In December, CEO Steve Ellis wrote an apology letter that appeared in 61 newspapers and vowed that the chain would be the “safest place to eat” during an interview with “The Today Show.”
The chain has already implemented steps to ensure the safety of its offerings, such as moving the chopping of tomatoes and lettuce to a central location, and blanching onions to kill germs before they’re chopped.
On Wednesday, Chipotle stock jumped following updated comments to investors and analysts from the company at the ICR conference. Analysts cited the positive comments from the company concerning the CDC’s E. coli investigation drawing to a close, and upcoming promotions to draw customers as part of the reason for the uptick.
“I have confidence that we’re going to recover from this,” said Ells, during a conference presentation. 
Considering its commitment to fresh, organic food and transparency, Chipotle devotees will likely forgive the chain. I know I will.
Especially if there’s a free taco in it for me.
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.