Quesadillas are taking off at Chipotle

It took a while for Chipotle to roll out its quesadilla. But the cheesy item hit menus last month, and customers are into it. About 10% of all orders now include a quesadilla, CEO Brian Niccol said during an analyst call discussing first quarter earnings on April 21.

It took a while for Chipotle to roll out its quesadilla. But the cheesy item hit menus last month, and customers are into it.

About 10% of all orders now include a quesadilla, CEO Brian Niccol said during an analyst call discussing first quarter earnings on Wednesday. We "expect it to remain a guest favorite moving forward," he said.

Chipotle tested out quesadillas back in 2018. At the time, Niccol noted that it could take about three years before the item would be added to menus nationally. The company ran another test last September in Cleveland and Indianapolis. And then in March, it launched the product nationally.

Customers have been clamoring for quesadillas for some time, according to the company. Chris Brandt, Chipotle's chief marketing officer, described the quesadilla as "one of the most highly anticipated menu items in our brand's history," in a statement last month. And quesadillas are bringing in new customers as well, Niccol said on Wednesday's call.

The quesadilla is made with monterey jack cheese and a choice of chicken, steak, carnitas, barbacoa, sofritas — a plant-based protein — or fajita vegetables. It's only available online or through the app, so people who want to try it have to order through Chipotle's digital channels, which have become increasingly important to the company during the pandemic.

Sales at Chipotle stores open at least 13 months jumped 17% in the quarter. Part of that growth may be attributed to the quesadilla, according to BTIG restaurant analyst Peter Saleh.

"We estimate the recently launched quesadilla ... could be generating a mid-to-high single digit increase in same-store sales," Saleh wrote in a note Thursday.

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