Chipotle Bets On Pizza, But It Won’t Be Putting Pepperoni In Your Burrito Bowl

pizzerialocaleEverybody likes pizza. It says so in the Constitution (at least the one I wrote for a class project when I was 9). Chipotle is banking on this widespread adoration for things pizza-like, but not by adding a line of bean/meat/cheese-covered pies to its menu. Instead, the company has decided to back an upstart, upscale pizza chain in Colorado.

Pizzeria Locale (you know it’s upscale when they slap that “e” on “local”) opened in Boulder, CO, back in 2011, as a full-service restaurant. In contrast, the partnership between Chipotle and Pizzeria Locale takes the burrito chain’s fast-casual approach to pizza, with customers able to customize their 10″ pizzas from the list of ingredients via an “interactive service line.”

The company claims it will only take two minutes for the pizzas to bake in the Locale fancy ovens, but the most interesting feature to us is the statement that, “Red or white Italian wine is available on tap.”

The first fast-casual Locale opened in Denver last spring, and Chipotle announced today that it will be looking to open a second and third location in the Mile High City, though it has not yet picked specific spots for these future eateries.

“[Pizzeria Locale founders Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson] are extraordinary restaurateurs who truly understand what it takes to provide an exceptional dining experience,” said Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle. “I have known them for years and I thought their pizzeria in Boulder presented the perfect opportunity to collaborate. Opening Pizzeria Locale using a model similar to Chipotle allows us to make extraordinary pizza, made with high-quality ingredients accessible to everyone.”

This is Chipotle’s second venture outside the burrito zone. It currently operates a half-dozen ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen restaurants in Washington, DC, and Los Angeles, and plans to expand into other markets.

“While both Pizzeria Locale and ShopHouse are exciting concepts, it’s important to remember that our growth will continue to be driven for the foreseeable future by expanding the Chipotle brand within the U.S.,” said Steve Ells.