The view from my burrito bowl: On Chipotle and Millennials

Chipotle, downtown Boston (Photo: DY)

Chipotle, downtown Boston (Photo: DY)

I worked into the evening at my faculty office today, and after a quick assessment of what I might find in my fridge at home, I decided to grab a bite to eat before hopping on the subway. I settled on Chipotle because it’s quick, inexpensive, and close to the subway entrance.

As far as fast food goes, it also happens to be relatively healthy and tasty. I opted for a burrito bowl consisting of brown rice (I’m trying…), shredded pork, black beans, salsa, corn, a bare sprinkling of cheese, and shredded lettuce. Not bad, seriously.

I’ve gone to this Chipotle around a half dozen times this summer (actually, it’s the only one I’ve been to), and during each visit I’ve noticed that I am just about the oldest person in the place. Most of the customers (not to mention the workers) are in their 20s or younger. I’ve also noticed in random blogs and commentaries by Millennials that Chipotle pops up in their conversations, like it’s part of their generational culture.

So when I got home, I searched “Millennials” and “Chipotle,” and up came a fistful of articles saying that Millennials are opting for places like Chipotle over usual fast food suspects like McDonald’s and Burger King. Furthermore, the company’s marketing efforts are targeting Millennials, especially with appeals based on sustainable food practices.

I guess my observational instincts were pretty good!

In terms of quality and healthier casual eating, the Millennials have it over the Boomers and others on this one. Chipotle isn’t exactly health food, but it’s much higher up on the gustatory chain than a Whopper and onion rings.

To close on a brief historical note: The Chipotle I patronize is housed in a historic, old Boston building that once was a well-known bookstore. It does break my heart a little to think that a chain restaurant now inhabits this historic site. I’d be very surprised if many of the other weekday evening customers are aware of its provenance.

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