Major Fast-Food Chain Shuts Down Its New Restaurant Brand

By: Georgia | Published: Apr 28, 2024

Just a short while ago, Chipotle tried something new by launching Farmesa Fresh Eatery, a spinoff dedicated to farm-to-table bowls.

They even had a clever name blend: “farm” and “mesa” (Spanish for table). But less than a year later, the Santa Monica ghost kitchen, Farmesa’s birthplace, shut down due to financial woes.

Ghost Kitchens Go Bust

The closure of Kitchen United’s Santa Monica location marked the end of Farmesa’s brief life. 

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A dimly lit commercial kitchen with steam rising above a stove, pots hanging from a rack, and various cooking utensils arranged on a workbench

Source: Francisco Suarez/Unsplash

Ghost kitchens, which sprang up as a pandemic fix for restaurants, help eateries serve delivery orders without a storefront. But as diners returned and costs rose, this business model hit hard times.

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Chipotle's Plan B: No Standalone Farmesa

Curt Garner from Chipotle made it clear, saying, “We have no plans to open a freestanding version of Farmesa.” 

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Exterior of a Chipotle restaurant featuring modern architecture with outdoor patio seating and umbrellas set up in front of the entrance

Source: Wikimedia Commons

While the spinoff might have simmered down, it’s not off the menu entirely. Chipotle’s innovation lab still toys with Farmesa-inspired dishes, keeping the spirit alive in a different form.

Back to the Roots

CNBC reports that Chipotle’s CEO Brian Niccol, recently emphasized a renewed focus on their core brand. 

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The facade of a Chipotle Mexican Grill located in a strip mall with a well-manicured landscape and a clear blue sky

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Expanding globally and refining their U.S. presence is the current game plan, with no immediate detours back to spinoff land.

Boosting Efficiency at Chipotle

Chipotle is revamping how fast and efficiently they serve up their famous bowls and burritos. 

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Close-up view of an unwrapped Chipotle burrito with a filling of rice, beans, meat, and vegetables visible, set on a foil wrapper

Source: Wikimedia Commons

These enhancements are not just about speed—they’re about bolstering Chipotle’s bottom line, as seen in their recent earnings win, surpassing Wall Street’s expectations.

A Pandemic Phenomenon Fizzles

Ghost kitchens saw a surge in popularity as the pandemic provided an unexpected boost, helping restaurants manage without dine-in options. 

A chef's hand is seen touching order tickets hanging in a commercial kitchen, with a focus on the hands and the white tickets against a stainless steel backdrop

Source: Daniel Bradley/Unsplash

Yet, as normalcy returns and financial constraints tighten, sustaining such models has proven difficult for operators like Kitchen United.

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New Ownership for Kitchen United

In a notable industry shake-up, Sam Nazarian’s SBE has taken over the remnants of Kitchen United in March. 

A cozy view into a restaurant kitchen, showcasing hanging pots and utensils, shelves lined with bottles and spices, with a chef working in the background under warm lighting

Source: Daniel Nijland/Unsplash

With the acquisition, including locations and intellectual property, Nazarian launched Everybody Eats, marking a fresh chapter in the ghost kitchen narrative.

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Chipotle's Ongoing Innovation

Despite discontinuing Farmesa, Chipotle’s commitment to innovation hasn’t waned. 

Exterior view of a Chipotle restaurant on a cloudy day, with reflections of the street visible in the glass windows and the entrance centered between black and white facades

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Their lab continues to be a hotbed for creative culinary developments, potentially influencing future menu enhancements that could delight Chipotle fans nationwide.

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Doubling Down on Core and Global Growth

Reaffirming the focus during the earnings call, Niccol spoke about reinforcing the core business and pushing for more international presence. 

A hand dipping a tortilla chip into a Chipotle-branded cup filled with chunky, green guacamole, with a brown takeout bag in the background

Source: Chipotle Mexican Grill/Facebook

This strategy is geared towards cementing Chipotle’s status as a formidable player on the global stage.

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Market Realities Impacting New Initiatives

The closure of Farmesa is indicative of the broader challenges that new ventures face in the current economic climate. 

Front view of a Chipotle restaurant with a blue exterior and large windows, in an urban setting with reflections of the street life visible in the glass

Source: Chipotle Mexican Grill/Facebook

Fluctuating market conditions and consumer behavior shifts are crucial factors that startups must navigate to thrive.

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Uncertain Future for Ghost Kitchens

While Farmesa’s journey was cut short, the fluctuating fate of ghost kitchens poses a larger question about the future of dining. 

A focused chef preparing food in a busy, well-stocked restaurant kitchen with steam rising in the background and various kitchen tools within reach

Source: Anton Nazaretian/Unsplash

Will they adapt and survive, or fade as a temporary fix to a temporary problem?

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Looking Forward: The Evolution of Eating Out

As Chipotle refocuses on its core brand and strategic expansion, the dining sector at large is undergoing significant transformations. 

An open Chipotle burrito with colorful fillings alongside a generous portion of tortilla chips, guacamole, and scattered toppings on a brown paper surface

Source: Chipotle Mexican Grill/Facebook

How food services are delivered and experienced is evolving, shaping new consumer expectations and dining trends that are set to redefine the culinary world.

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