With over 3,200 locations, you can’t miss Chipotle. This Mexican restaurant chain is scattered all over the United States as well as in Canada and Europe. It’s considered healthy fast food by many due to its servings of vegetables and grains. The company serves food without artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. Chipotle stands by their motto of “food with integrity” and values fresh ingredients.

How much does it cost to open a Chipotle in 2024? Once upon a time, Chipotle allowed franchising of their restaurants but the program ended in 2006. As of today, Chipotle does not allow anyone to franchise their restaurant for the reason stating they wouldn’t like to “compromise the experience” on how their business is run. By working with franchisees, you give up a certain degree of control as a corporate entity. You can find an opportunity that fits your goals and budget by taking our 7-minute franchise quiz. 

In this industry report, I evaluate Chipotle’s sales, profit, and other business details. In the unlikely event the company decides to open up franchise opportunities again, you’ll be ready to take action. Let’s investigate the business this growing Mexican concept.

Financial Requirements and Fees

Chipotle doesn’t offer a franchise opportunity and therefore doesn’t have any fees. With that being said, here’s what similar concepts charge by evaluating similar concepts like Qdoba and Moe’s Southwest Grill.

Fees/Expenses Financial Amount
Total Investment $250,000 – $1,800,000
Franchise Fee $15,000 to $30,500

Average Sales / Revenue per Year

Chipotle’s average sales per store reached $8.63 billion in 2022. This is considered a 14.41% increase from their 2021 revenue which was $7.5 billion.

To put this sales number into perspective, this is phenomenal average store performance. Take for example the concept Steak ‘n Shake, grosses just over $231 million in sales per store annually. There are dozens of franchise opportunities that would be thrilled to hit the $billion dollar threshold of gross revenue each year.

Chipotle Franchise Facts

Total Units 3,200
Incorporated Name Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.
Franchising Since Does Not Allow Franchising
Industry Restaurant
Subsector Quick Service

Chipotle started in 1993 in Denver, Colorado. The restaurant chain was founded by Steve Ells who loaned $85,000 from his father to start the business after he left his job as a line cook in San Francisco. In order for the business to be profitable, Ells and his father calculated that they’d need to sell 107 burritos a day. After a month, Chipotle was already selling 1,000 burritos a day.

McDonald’s invested in Chipotle in 1998. Their investment paved the way for Chipotle’s expansion from 16 restaurants to 500 in 2005. In 2006, McDonald’s divested from Chipotle. The company then bought back all the franchises and became company-owned.

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Chipotle takes pride in using only 53 ingredients that “you can pronounce.” Stores do not have any freezers or can openers. In other words, these practices ensure customers get ingredients that are made fresh daily.

Chipotle is ranked in the Fortune 500. California has the most Chipotles with over 457 branches. As of March 2018, former Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol is leading the direction of the company.

How Much Does Chipotle Make in Profit?

In 2022, Chipotle generated $2 billion in profit.

Even in the midst of the pandemic, while there was an impact on Chipotle’s sales due to lock-down, the company actually came out of the health crisis stronger than ever. Before the start of the pandemic, Chipotle had a profit of $1.1 million in 2019. It dipped in 2020 due to the pandemic but they’re now back on track.

Advantages of a Chipotle Franchise

We know you can’t operate a Chipotle. But if you ever had the chance to, here are a couple of advantages you could take advantage of.

Healthy Version of Fast Food

Let’s admit it: Chipotle is considered fast food. But it’s healthier than most places since food items are less greasy and assembled right in front of customers so they know how the staff handles their meal. The food is served fast, but it’s healthier than the alternative.

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The company uses only fresh ingredients and offers plenty of vegetarian menu options. Chipotle does not have any freezer so everyone knows the ingredients laid out for customers have been delivered recently.

If you’ll be able to run a Chipotle, you can drive in a health-conscious crowd which is a lot since this trend continues to be on the rise.


Chipotle is so popular that you don’t need a lot of advertising to draw in the crowd. The concept is well-known globally with stores in the United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Germany. The restaurant might one day be as well recognized as popular as fast food joints you can think of.

Simple Menu

Despite the wide array of toppings one can choose from at Chipotle, their menu is pretty simple. Customers choose whether they want a burrito, burrito bowl, taco, or salad, and then proceed to choose their grains, beans, and toppings. They also have a kid’s meal should customers bring their children there to eat using the same set of ingredients.

Digital Ordering

Similar to other category leaders like Starbucks, Chipotle has been able to take advantage of online ordering. In 2020, Chipotle saw an 177.2% increase in online orders that resulted in $781.4 in sales. More and more customers are beginning to realize the advantages of ordering ahead through an app. In addition to generating more sales, the company is able to drive more longterm sales on digital through an online loyalty program as well. From a digital marketing standpoint, Chipotle is positioned well ahead of the competition.

Challenges of a Chipotle Franchise

Handling a business, even ones that are franchises does not guarantee you a smooth operation all throughout. There will be challenges and it’s better to know what these are before you dive into handling one. For Chipotle, here are some of the aspects I view as challenges to the business.

Keeping Things Fresh

As mentioned above, Chipotle is known for using fresh ingredients daily so the challenge here is to sell as much as you can for the day so you don’t have any leftovers. A former employee from Chipotle once said that the remaining meat is tossed at the end of the day. You don’t want to have a lot of wasted food at your branch. If the volume of customers were ever to slow down for this concept, food waste and expenses could skyrocket.

Past Outbreaks

Sadly, Chipotle has gotten a lot of bad publicity for E-Coli outbreaks through the years. This has tarnished the company’s name and impacted their sales. Though they’ve managed to regain their footing and then some, the past still lingers for some people.


In theory, Chipotle shouldn’t be that hard to replicate. After all, as someone who has lived in Southern California understands there are plenty of ma-and-pa taco shops out there that are fantastic. At the end of the day they are a company that serves Mexican food.

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Their competitors are QDOBA, who has reached a billion in revenue this year, along with Moe’s Southwestern Grill with over $705 million. While Chipotle should be easy to replicate in theory, the company has proven time and time again that they can execute unlike anyone else in the industry.

Popularity Dying?

According to a report by Bon Appetit, there seems to be a lack of interest for Chipotle these days. The article talks about the videos from Tiktok users saying that Chipotle doesn’t taste as good as before and that they’re not as fresh as they once were. Chipotle may need to change some things around and do better in marketing their brand so as to win the hearts of their fans once more.

Is the Chipotle Franchise Right For You?

If Chipotle allows franchisees to get involved in the business again it could be an appealing opportunity. looks to be a profitable business should you be allowed to franchise one. It’s also growing stronger through the years and still stands strong despite fighting outbreaks and even this pandemic. It’s a business worth investing in if you have the savings to spare and a passion for serving freshly made Mexican food.

But there’s hope for future franchisees since recently Chipotle was reported to franchise internationally for the first time in Dubai and Kuwait. The franchise is set to start next year. So maybe Chipotle is starting to accept franchising in the U.S. soon!

What is an alternative Chipotle franchise?

If you can’t wait for Chipotle to start accepting franchising again, you can check out Moe’s Southwest Grill or QDOBA Mexican Eats. Both serve the similar menu items as Chipotle. Moe’s franchise fee is $30,500 while QDOBA’s franchise fee is $30,000.

I’ll be doing an evaluation on both of these companies in the future. With this guide, you’ll surely be ready to handle a Chipotle franchise in the event it becomes an option.