Chipotle Mexican Grill is expanding its new ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen concept, which launched with a single unit in late 2011 in Washington, D.C. The company opened one unit in Los Angeles in June and was on track to open two more in July — one in Santa Monica, Calif., and one in Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood. The company also signed leases for two additional Los Angeles-area restaurants and two more in the D.C. area — all expected to be open by mid-2014.
The fast-casual concept mirrors Chipotle's interactive style of service and customized food production but with Southeast Asian ingredients and menu items. It gets its name from traditional shophouses, a common form of architecture in Southeast Asian cities in which families live upstairs and operate restaurants or fresh markets on the ground floor.
Chipotle is taking a slow, measured approach to growing the concept and has spent the past year in tweak and fine-tune mode. That pace will be maintained, according to the company, which notes that despite very positive customer response, "the new ShopHouse deals do not signify an acceleration of Chipotle's development plans for the concept, and Chipotle's growth will be driven primarily by developing the Chipotle brand in the U.S. for the foreseeable future."