Chipotle testing new protein option in select cities ahead of possible nationwide launch

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Love brisket burritos, but live anywhere other than Cincinnati or Sacramento? Too bad!

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Chipotle announced this week that restaurants in the Cincinnati and Sacramento areas are part of the current test market for its newest protein: smoked beef brisket.

“We’re thrilled to offer a new, responsibly-sourced brisket that tastes terrific and meets our industry leading Food with Integrity standards,” a Chipotle executive said. (Chipotle)

"We're thrilled to offer a new, responsibly-sourced brisket that tastes terrific and meets our industry leading Food with Integrity standards," said Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer of Chipotle. "The richness of our real Smoked Brisket recipe delivers a craveable new flavor to our guests as we continue to innovate across our menu."

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Chipotle’s beef brisket is said to be made with a “special” spice blend before being seared on the grill and finished with a pepper-based sauce, although — again — only customers in Cincinnati and Sacramento can taste this brisket for the time being. But come on — isn’t it enough that they already enjoy world-class Cincinnati-style chili and world-famous Merlino’s Orange Freezes, respectively?

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Chipotle acknowledged that similar tests — namely, those of its carne asada and queso blanco — were introduced in smaller markets, in a similar “stage-gate process,” before making their national launch. (iStock)

Chipotle is also in the process of expanding its idea for “digital-only” restaurants — designed for off-premise orders or pickup — to the most favorable markets, following the growth of digital sales both before and amid the pandemic.

“We absolutely plan to open more digital kitchens and are carefully evaluating the best trade areas for Chipotle in which to expand this test,” Chipotle’s Global Chief Development Officer Tabassum Zalotrawala said in a statement to FOX Business. “Future locations will be areas where Chipotle has a higher volume of sales through digital business.”

Chipotle opened its first digital-only restaurant in Highland Falls, N.Y., in November.

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Fox Business' Sumner Park contributed to this report.

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