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Chipotle Mexican Grill is a well known fast food chain in the United States. It’s a fast food chain that is worth around $11 billion. Chipotle has over 1,400 stores across the United States. Seeing this success, one might think that the founder of Chipotle is Mexican, but it is not. Not only is the founder not Mexican, but the founder also didn’t start Chipotle because he wanted to own a fast food chain. Insider dive deep inside the chain to find out the reason behind the success of Chipotle as well as the person behind it.
The person behind the successful fast-food chain was Steve Ells. He is a trained chef. He was trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York and graduated in 1990.
Upon graduation, his dream was to open a fine dining restaurant. However, he didn’t have the money to open a fine dining restaurant, so with the help of his dad, he started a fast food Mexican grill restaurant with $85,000 in Denver, Colorado.
(Dean, 2013) His idea was to open up this restaurant and save money in order to achieve his dream. Little did he know that the restaurant would be a success and open up in many different locations around the United States.
The company grew larger and went public. Chipotle was in the top three successful IPO in fast food category. Chipotle Mexican grill has come along way and their success has to do with the way they do their business. Their business blueprint is very different from other fast food chains.
Some say that they are successful because of their ethical way of doing business. In order to find out whether their way of doing business is ethical or not, it is important to use hedonism, ethical egoism, and consequentialism.
The first theory that I am applying is Hedonism. “A good life is a happy life.” (Landau, 2012, p. 24) It is said that when we are happy, our life as well, so when we are unhappy our life is bad. The happier we are in our lives, the better it gets and the more unhappy we are in our lives, the worse it will be this is how a henosit would view the world. To achieve hedonism people have to figure out what makes them internally happy as well as what material things make them happy. In other words, it is important to find out what our intrinsic values are and what our instrumental values are. “Normal human beings are said to have a desire for what is best for themselves.” (Chandler, 1975, p. 223) It’s true that we want the best version of ourselves and that is the reason why we work hard every day so that we can be the best that we can be.
Steve Ells would have had this idea in his head when he started Chipotle. He wanted to create the best that he can with the resources that are available. He wanted to open a fine dining restaurant which shows that he wanted to create something that is the best because fine dining food means that it’s the best of the best. However, due to the limitation, he started out with Chipotle. When he opened Chipotle, Steve didn’t cut corners. He provided his customers with the ingredients that are fresh. Not only that, but he was very happy with Chipotle, so he opens up new locations. Before he knew it, he was deep into the fast food business. Although his dream was to start a fine dining restaurant, he was very happy with his fast-food chain that his daily life improved. It makes him happy and he forgot about his dream and focus on his fast food business. He was only able to do it because of the passion and the happiness it brings to his life. Noly only that, but he also makes sure that his employees are happy. The reason is that he believes that the restaurant will only be successful if the employees working there are happy. This ties back to the theory of Hedonism. “A good life is a happy life.” (Landau, 2012, p. 24) The success of the company is related to the level of happiness of the employees. This is the way this theory is acceptable for the business model of Chipotle.
The Second theory I am applying is ethical egoism. This theory is based on moral. We as an individual has one ultimate moral and that is to improve our own well-being as best as we can. “Egoism requires that we help others only when we help ourselves in the bargain.” (Landau, 2012, p. 111) This is true to a point because no matter how good we say we are as human beings, we are still selfish. Although in the book The Fundamentals of Ethics, it mentions three types of egoism, this paragraph will mainly focus on the third ethical egoism, which is to help others is a must, but when helping others, it has to align with our self-interest. It is also very important to learn how to negotiate when it comes to ethical egoism in order for it to benefit you as well. In an article there is a line that said, “helping you is helping me.” (Schroth, 2008) This explains the self-interest part of ethical egoism.
For the business model of Chipotle, it is acceptable for this theory as well. According to the insider video, Chipotle uses local farm sources. Also, they do not use animals that aren’t naturally raised. So, all the meat that they use for their product comes from farms that raise them naturally. This is advertised heavily at their store because many people in the United States believe that cooperated farming is very cruel towards the animals. By doing this, chipotle receive more customers because at least they are doing something that is ethically right. This means that it aligns with chipotle interest because they are making money by having more customers that agree with what chipotle is doing. Since they are helping the farmers have a decent business, they also receive more loyal customers as well. This business model is related to the statement, “helping you is helping me.” Due to that ethical egoism theory is also acceptable to chipotle business model.
“Consequentialism says that an action is morally required just because it produces the best overall results.” (Landau, 2012, p. 122) We have to do good as much as we can because they are morally right. Many philosophers believe that it is very hard to reject this theory because it’s so attractive and appealing in our life. “Act-consequentialism states that if one is required to do x then one has most reason to desire x’s outcome.” (Sach, 2013, p. 673) This means that if you want to get something you must want it a lot in order to gain what you want. “Consequentialism is intended to gain its plausibility from the idea that the consequences of act are the only things that matter from a moral point of view.” (Budolfson, 2018)
For this theory, it is also accepted this theory because Steve the co-founder of CEO wanted to use animals that are naturally grown. The reason is that while he visited a lot of farms for sources to use in his company, he found that it’s very sad for the animals to be in a cage. His desire to use naturally grown animals in chipotle, so no matter how much higher the price was he was willing to use them. Even when his profit might lower, he was still willing to use them. Due to the fact that he has his moral, he did his best to come out with the best results. Although it might not seem much this action is also related to the second theory. Another reason why this theory is also acceptable is that Steve himself would go out in the field and talked to his employees. The employees who work for him get to learn his morals and ethics. During these visits, Steve has to be on his best behavior, so that the outcome of these meetings will be the best results that it can be.
The ethical theories that are mentioned above make what Chipotle is today successful. Due to the fact that they follow a certain business model which relate to several moral and ethics, many customers were able to trust the brand. The happiness of the employees and the ingredients that are used in Chipotle shows how much Steve, the co-founder paid attention to his ethics. Although he didn’t end up opening a fine dining restaurant, his fast-food chain is successful and he is very happy. Since he is happy, the quality of his life improves as well.
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