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The Ratings Game: Chipotle was ‘surprised’ by negative reaction to queso, which now is boosting sales

The social-media response to Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.’s queso was not good initially, but now executives say the side dish is delivering its hoped-for benefits.

When queso was added to the menu in September 2017, it was met with negative reviews.

Now, according to Chipotle’s CMG, +5.57% Chief Financial Officer John Hartung, the fast-casual chain’s second-quarter same-store-sales growth of 3.3% can be attributed to higher average check, driven by price increases and the queso add-on.

At first, queso added about 3.5% to same-store sales. Now it has settled into a “sustained benefit” of about 2% to average check, Hartung said on the late Thursday earnings call.

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