Chipotle Mexican Grill is an American chain of fast-casual dining restaurants founded by Steve Ells in Denver, Colorado. The first location opened in 1993 near the campus of the University of Denver. There are currently over 900 locations throughout United States.
Known for its sizeable burritos, assembly line production, and commitment to natural ingredients, Chipotle had an aggressive expansion campaign between 1998 and 2005, mostly thanks to McDonald's becoming its largest investor. In January 2006, Chipotle (NYSE: CMG) issued its initial public offering (IPO) which was the best US-based IPO in since 2000 and the best IPO for a restaurant since Boston Market. This success was used to fund further growth and expansion. In October 2006, McDonald's fully divested its investment in Chipotle, so it is no longer affiliated with the restaurant today.
Seemingly contrary to its ambitious expansion campaign, Chipotle has never advertised on television, relying mostly on word-of-mouth advertising, as well as some print ads and radio spots. Additionally, Chipotle will sponsor many giveaway promotions to potential customers, most often when opening a new location within the borders of the United States. Regardless, Chipotle has received its share of attention on television shows, including an October 2009 episode of South Park and throughout The Osbournes series.