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Chipotle considers opening a burger chain


Chipotle Mexican Grill is thinking about getting into the burger business.

The fast-casual giant, which is still struggling to recover financially from food-safety problems that surfaced last summer, filed a trademark application for "Better Burger" as part of a business diversification move to open a burger restaurant chain.

“It’s a growth seed idea we are exploring,” spokesman Chris Arnold told Bloomberg. “We have two non-Chipotle growth seeds open now — ShopHouse (Southeast Asian Kitchen) and Pizzeria Locale — and have noted before that the Chipotle model could be applied to a wide variety of foods.”

Chipotle debuted ShopHouse in Washington in 2011, and has since expanded the Asian eatery to the Los Angeles and Chicago markets. In 2013, the company invested in Pizzeria Locale, a highly praised pizzeria in Boulder, Colorado. It has been quietly expanding the concept.

If Chipotle goes ahead to develop a fast-casual burger chain it will be entering a segment that has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years, with such formidable players as Shake Shack, Smashburger and Five Guys Burgers & Fries all in expansion mode.

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