Founded in 1993, CMG (Chipotle Mexican Grill) is one of the leading chains of fast-casual restaurants in the US, Germany, France, Canada, and the UK.
With over 2,650 restaurants, CMG employs around 97,600 people, and Chipotle runs and owns all of its restaurants—no franchise-based business model.
The company reported a revenue of $7.5 billion for the year 2021, an increase of almost 26% compared to that of 2020.
The market capitalization of Chipotle has grown from $1 billion all the way to $44.9 billion as of April 2022.
Also, the study by Technavio reports that the market for fast-casual restaurant will grow by somewhat $150 billion from 2019 to 2024, growing at a compound annual growth rate of almost 12% over the forecast years.
Albeit Chipotle is doing well, many Mexican eateries and fast-food chains like Mcdonald’s, are in direct competition with this Mexican eatery, “CMG.”
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Top 15 Alternatives and Competitors to Chipotle
CMG operates in a fast-paced industry and faces stiff competition from other well-known eateries. Here’s a comprehensive analysis of the top 15 competitors to Chipotle:
Taco Bell is a multinational fast-food chain based in the outskirts of Irvine, California, that operates a chain of restaurants.
With more than 7000 restaurants, Taco Bell is a behemoth that hovers over Chipotle, always waiting for the opportune moment to seize its market share.
The fast-casual chain offers customers a wide range of Mexican dishes, including tacos, quesadillas, burritos, and nachos.
The best thing? The company has revamped its menu and included healthier options for people who keep a count on their calories, enticing a whole new customer base.
Who doesn’t know about Burger King? In terms of popularity, this fast-food industry giant stands just behind Mcdonald’s.
Did you know that the company, with its new off-premise-focused restaurant design elements, opened in numerous locations as of 2020?
On top of that, its innovative features make it a lot easier for customers to order online and pick up their food on the curbside using their smart devices.
Also, Burger King’s sales rose to a whopping $23 billion as of 2021 from $20 billion in 2020.
The company rolled out its first restaurant in January 2021 with robust features that put emphasis on both sustainability and transparency. Also, the stores are smaller than a standard BK store and 100% touchless. These innovative features give BK a key competitive edge over Chipotle.
A top multinational quick fast-food service, Wendy’s is based in the outskirts of Ohio. The company has around 7000 franchises and over 1200 quick-service eateries in the US.
Also, Wendy’s made revenue of almost $1.9 billion as of 2021. What’s more, it has an extensive market presence and vast experience in the fast-food area, making it one of the top competitors to Chipotle.
What’s more surprising is that the company’s value tripled from March to September 2020, and it is one of the top 5 quick-service eateries and has growth potential.
It is one of the unique restaurants operating in the US and is probably the largest eatery specializing in chicken sandwiches.
The business model of the company revolves around customer satisfaction. This, in turn, helped the brand emerge as one of the top restaurants in the US for six consecutive years.
Also, the company with 2704 locations operated around 76 company-owned, 393 licensed, and 2235 franchised Chick-fil-A restaurants, reporting an increase of over 100 locations from 2020.
Chick-fil-A generated sales of almost $16.7 billion, an increase of 22% from 2020.
Qdoba Mexican Eats
Specializing in Mexican-style cuisine, Qdoba Mexican Eats is a chain of fast-casual restaurants operating in Canada and the US.
Qdoba was founded in 1995 to establish a large and loyal customer base and build a reputation as authentic Mexican cuisine.
The company has eateries in approximately 700 locations that are either franchised or run directly by the company.
Also, its Mexican-based menu and huge scale make Qdoba one of the top competitors to Chipotle.
The company used to operate all its store for 15 years until Apollo acquired it for $305 million, switching to a franchise model in 2019.
Also, the fast-casual restaurant is known for serving high-quality meals, giving it a competitive edge over other fast-casual eateries.
Moe’s Southwest Grill
With over 700 locations, an American fast-casual restaurant, MOE’s (Moe’s Southwest Grill), has made a name for itself in the US as the guardian of Mexican cuisine.
MOE stands as one of the fiercest and strongest rivals of Chipotle, and the food war between both companies isn’t something new. In 2017, when Chipotle announced to add ‘Queso’ to their menu, MOEs didn’t take it well and issued a warning to the public to keep away from phonies. But, the food war ended after a few months.
However, in 2020, Chipotle enticed the customers by introducing a new recipe for Queso, to which MOEs responded cleverly and lurked the buyers. They grabbed the attention of buyers by selling Queso under the slogan, “FREE QUESO IS BETTER THAN SOME NEW QUESO RECIPE.”
Hence, it is one of the top competitors to Chipotle that has been giving it a hard time.
Rubio’s Coastal Grill
A decade before Chipotle emerged, RCG (Rubio’s Coastal Grill) was functioning at its best and had a strong customer base.
However, the entry of several well-known eateries such as Qdoba, MOE, Baja, and Chipotle into the food industry stole Rubio’s consumer base.
The company’s problem further intensified in 2020 because of the financial crisis. The eatery had restaurants in 200+ locations as of 2020, but now the number has decreased to 167.
Nonetheless, Rubio’s is all ready to compete fiercely with other eateries and Chipotle for the market share.
Baja Fresh Mexican Grill
MTY food group, together with its sibling company La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill, franchises and operates Baja Fresh.
Both (Baja and La Salsa) function as one company that, in turn, boosts their market share and give them a competitive edge over other eateries.
The company originally started as Baja but then revamped its menu and emphasized both freshness and the flavor of the food.
The biggest plus? The use of fresh farm produces (although certain items only) give Baja Fresh Mexican Grill an advantage over Chipotle.
Also, the company welcomed a revenue of $34.9 million as of 2021.
Domino’s a name synonymous in every household. It is an American-based multinational pizza restaurant chain.
The company is one of the oldest pizza delivery services that now has over 14,000 stores globally.
Did you know that Domino’s is the world’s second-largest pizza eatery, standing next to Pizza Hut, and has a strong following among pizza fans?
Also, the company generated a revenue of $4.35 billion as of 2021, an increase of almost 11%.
Starbucks is recognized as the freshly-brewed coffee all around the world. Also, the company offers additional cuisine options that may entice the Chipotle consumer base.
Starbucks’ consolidated net revenue in the 4th quarter of 2021 rose by almost 31% to a record-high $8.1 billion.
Also, the company has over 30,000 restaurants in 83 markets globally. If we look at both eateries, Chipotle and Starbucks, Chipotle has more dominance in the US market, whereas Starbuck’s geographic diversity and the number of stores make it a formidable competitor to Chipotle.
Pizza hut first opened its store in 1962, and the company went public in 1984. However, it again reverted to being a private company in 2001.
NPC International, Yum Brands’ largest franchise, owns Pizza Hut and runs almost 12,000 stores of pizza hut.
Also, the company, with over 350,000 employees, has over 18,000 restaurants and has turned out to be the largest pizza chain globally.
What’s more, the company generated revenue of almost $12.9 billion as of 2021.
Shake shack first started as a hot dog cart which later transformed into a fast-casual eatery.
Also, Shake Shack experienced a 39% drop in sales as of the second quarter of 2020. That’s because of the shortage of beef in the US and the crisis.
However, the company came out stronger than ever as of August 2020 and never saw back then. In the third quarter of 2020, Shake Shack witnessed an increase of 14.8% in profit from 2.2% in the second quarter.
Regardless of the challenges, the company, with over 30 locations, generated $739.9 million in revenue as of 2021.
One of the biggest names in the global fast-food industry, Mcdonald’s has conquered every major market in the world. The company has more than 36,000 eateries in over 100 countries globally.
Both the restaurants (Mcdonald’s and Chipotle) have worked together for almost 15 years. Mcdonald’s split off CMG 15 years ago, luring huge investors and customers to the burrito brand.
Although Mcdonald’s doesn’t offer burritos, it has more than 14,000 eateries in the US. Hence, it has the potential of poaching Chipotle’s customer base.
Also, Mcdonald’s generated $23 billion in revenue for the year 2021.
It is a unique Mexican eatery that is very similar to Chipotle in terms of appearance and feels but has some of the most popular and sought-after dishes on the menu.
Freebirds is one of the few eateries that serve customers free-range chicken and grass-fed steak burritos.
Other eateries and Chipotle only serve cilantro-lime rice, whereas Freebirds serve Spanish rice.
However, these premium ingredients are limited, and their prices are always increasing, putting a strain on the bottom line. The company has suffered a lot due to the high costs, leading to the closure of its few stores.
Kentucky Fried Chicken is globally known for its fried chicken. The company has more than 4000 eateries in the US alone and almost 20,000 around the globe.
What’s more, the fast-food chain introduced a new chicken sandwich back in 2020 and discovered that the sandwich has the potential of quadrupling its sales projections. The new sandwich on the menu card gives Kentucky-based fast-food restaurants a key advantage over Chipotle.
Also, the company had a valuation of almost $5.4 billion as of 2020.
Chipotle has been witnessing dynamic growth within the fast-casual restaurant industry. It is a household name across the US.
Albeit it has over 2600 eateries, it mainly operates in the US market, where it is up against a slew of other well-known eateries.
Yes, the company doesn’t hold a monopoly over other fast-casual Mexican cuisines. But in terms of quality, it is indeed one of the best fast-food chains.