Chipotle asked workers not to order chicken last week. Here’s why

(NewsNation) — Popular burrito and bowl chain Chipotle told employees to stop putting chicken on their own meals amid surging customer demand last week, a representative for the chain confirmed to Nexstar on Thursday.

The request, according to Chipotle, came amid “supply issues” created by increased demand for chicken al pastor, a protein that returned to the restaurant’s menu in March.

“Due to the high demand for chicken in our restaurants and sustained success of our Chicken al Pastor, last week we asked all our corporate and in-restaurant employees to temporarily select another protein option for their meals to preserve our supply,” Laurie Schalow, Chipotle’s chief corporate affairs and food safety officer, said in a statement sent to Nexstar.

How many Chipotles does one city need?

“We’ve since informed employees they can return to ordering chicken in their meals as normal,” Schalow said. “We are not experiencing outages of chicken in our restaurants.”

Chipotle restaurant workers fill orders for customers on April 27, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

News of Chipotle requesting employees to refrain from ordering chicken was first reported by Bloomberg, which had viewed a company email sent to Chipotle’s team members.

In the email, store managers were reportedly told not to order their personal meals with chicken or Chicken al Pastor, and to ask other staff to do the same. But the guidance also applied to white-collar staff at Chipotle offices, who were told they “should not” order chicken for themselves, and informed them that the popular option wouldn’t be included in their free Monday lunches, according to Bloomberg.

The same day the Bloomberg article was published, however, Chipotle appeared to reverse course, telling Nexstar that the company was no longer asking employees to stay away from the chicken.

Chipotle founder to launch robot-run vegetarian chain

Chipotle’s chicken al pastor was originally introduced to the menu in 2023. The protein — marinated in “adobo, morita peppers and ground achiote with a splash of pineapple,” according to Chipotle — was available only for a limited time, during which it was requested in 20% of transactions, the chain said.

Chicken al Pastor
Chicken al pastor returned to Chipotle menus last month after a limited-time run in 2023. (Chipotle)

On the company’s quarterly earnings call Wednesday, executives highlighted the success of Chicken al Pastor, calling it one of the most requested new menu items.

Data from also showed that Chipotle visits surged 10% in the first quarter compared to the year prior, outpacing the 4% growth across the fast-casual segment.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to Queen City News.