Who’s behind Chipotle’s massive, juicy, spicy, fair-trade-to-boot with an extra 30 cents for guacamole burritos? Apparently, illegal immigrants might be. Federal criminal investigations are taking place at the two of the locations in D.C., Glover Park and Georgetown, and across the nation, on the company’s hiring practices.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Attorney’s office in D.C. met with Chipotle representatives to inform the company about the start of a 2-year investigation of Chipotle’s alleged hiring of undocumented workers. On May 16 the Securities and Exchange Committee delivered a subpoena to Chipotle to expand these investigations, though SEC does not have the power to make criminal charges.
Things have generally been quiet in the Burrito War between M Street’s Qdoba and Chipotle. But no longer: this Saturday Chipotle started giving free drinks to anyone with a student ID. According to a manager at Chipotle, the promotion will continue indefinitely.
This isn’t exactly a drastic move for Chipotle, especially given that Qdoba has offered free drinks for students since it opened. It’s a good start, but they’ll have to up their game if they have any hope of competing with Qdoba’s half-price Mondays.
Photo by Flickr user DJ Lein used under a Creative Commons license.
And the winner is … D.C. Schools! Man, they just can’t seem to catch a break. First the school closings, now this.
For those who haven’t been obsessively following the B.W., in response to Chipotle’s free burrito day on Monday, Qdoba extended their half-price Mondays to Wednesday as well, which, if I’m doing my math right, cuts the profits of this fundraiser in half. I guess DCPS just have to wait until next year for a makeover (because there’s no way we’re asking the for a bail-out).
When the new Qdoba at M and 33rd began offering half-price entrées to Georgetown students on Mondays, I knew it was only a matter of time before the Chipotle down the street would be forced to respond. But week after week went by and as Qdoba got busier and busier each Monday, Chipotle seemed to be acting under the premise that if they ignored this little annoyance, it would go away.
Well, not anymore. According to the employee who answered the phone when I called Chipotle to confirm earlier this evening, Chipotle will be giving out free burritos to Georgetown students and faculty all day tomorrow. In other words, it is so on.
Far from merely firing a warning shot across Qdoba’s bow, Chipotle seems to be looking to reassert its dominance in a big way. I’m not sure how the Burrito War is going to end—if these promotions will die out once the two restaurants reach a state of equilibrium or if there really isn’t room for the two of them on M St.—but nothing but good can come from such cutthroat competition. With the ball squarely in Qdoba’s court, I can’t wait to find out what’s coming next. Until then, I’ll see you all at Chipotle tomorrow.
Update 3/21 2:52 pm: Is there anything better than a free Chipotle burrito? How about a free Chipotle burrito along with a $5 Qdoba gift card? That’s right, Qdoba has stationed an employee handing out free gift cards on the corner of 33rd and M, presumably to deter people from making it further down the block to the competition. He gave me a card as I was walking to Chipotle and a dirty look as I was walking back with my Chipotle bag.