Chipotle has been trying to find its way out of a rough patch lately. It has struggled with well-publicized E. coli outbreaks, and had to drop carnitas from nearly half of its stores for failing to meet the chain's animal-welfare standards. Same-store sales fell 30 percent earlier this year before rebounding a bit, and the company's stock has taken a beating, too.
The chain could use a knight in shining armor. Could that savior come in liquid cheese form? Alas, Chipotle says no, there won't be queso on the menu anytime soon.
Many customers have clamored for queso online, lamenting the chain's lack of melty cheese and even abandoning Chipotle for alternatives like Qdoba, which offers the liquid gold. But Chipotle says that offering queso in their restaurants would require using artificial ingredients, and that's a no-no at Chipotle.
"Queso is something that we do get requests for from time to time, but it's very difficult to do it in a way that is consistent with our food philosophy," Chris Arnold, Chipotle's Communications Director, told MUNCHIES over e-mail. "To make queso in a way that is stable on the service line pretty much requires artificial ingredients (such as stabilizers to keep its consistency). That's just not what we do."
Chipotle addressed the queso-less menu issue a few weeks back when it released a YouTube video that depicts a fictional marketing team meeting at Chipotle. One employee, Larry—the bonehead of the group—suggests that the company start making queso. Bad idea, hombre.
"We do the whole food-with-integrity thing," the person running the meeting says. "Ever heard of all-natural-goopy cheese? Do you think there's a magical cow that squirts queso out of its udders, Larry?"
Business Insider also took a look at the no-queso controversy and determined that the video wasn't going to help things, saying, "A strange, bitter anti-queso video… is only going to alienate potential customers." But Chipotle is working hard to win people back, offering free food numerous times earlier this year and recently instituting a generous customer loyalty program called "Chiptopia." The program, which runs from July to September, allows diners to earn free food pretty quickly, and those who visit Chipotle 11 times each month and spend at least $6 each visit will earn free catering for 20 people.
RECIPE: Queso Dip
But if you're looking to guzzle vats of molten cheese, you're going to need to eat elsewhere for now. Here's hoping that the scientists in Chipotle's labs are endlessly searching for the recipe for an all-natural, smooth-as-silk queso that's worth the trip.
And in the meantime, just make ours.
WATCH: How to Make Queso