Chipotle: Simple yet Spicy Designs

When restauranteur Steven Ells decided to expand his Denver-based Mexican Grill, he paired up with his friend and architect, Brand Gould, to develop a design strategy that reflected Chipotle’s core business philosophy: “simple materials put together creatively”.

The result?  An interior design concept that is consistent in its colors and materials, but gives local designers the creative license to adapt the footprint to fit each unique space.  Based on an industrial feel, the elemental materials found in all 830+ restaurants include concrete, corrugated metal, stainless steel, schedule-40 plumbing pipes, and birch wood.  While at most Chipotle locations you will find stainless steel-covered birch used as tabletops and counters, in some the birch transcends functional purposes and acts as decorative ceiling art.  Even their custom-designed artwork by Bruce Gueswel is created through a clever combination of these raw materials.  Aside from the chili-red signature paint color and rust-brown stained concrete floors, the materials within the space maintain their natural palette – again mirroring the concept of natural ingredients in the food.

In addition to setting the standard for “fast-casual” dining, Chipotle also incorporates sustainable architecture in their buildings and is a leader among restaurants in green design. They have gained recognition through sustainability efforts such as construction recycling programs, tankless water heaters, high-efficiency appliances, durable recycled finishes and materials, and non-toxic cleaning supplies.  Their Gurnee, Illinois location generates about 5% of its own electricity needs via a 6-kw wind turbine, and was the first restaurant ever awarded Platinum Level LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Photos taken from 2 Manhattan Chipotle locations