Chipotle continues its rise to the top



Nation's Restaurant News just released its "Power List" and sitting at No. 2, behind Starbucks' Howard Schultz, is Denver's Steve Ells, founder of Chipotle Mexican Grill.

"A Culinary Institute of America graduate who once worked as a chef at the celebrated San Francisco restaurant Stars, Ells was inspired by the tiny taquerias of the Mission District, which served fast and affordable food," NRN writes. "Ells decided to take that model, but elevate the menu by applying classic cooking techniques ..."

It's interesting not just for its Colorado tie, but because Chipotle is hot right now. 

For instance, the company's planning to sink $10 million into a mobile payment system that will let customers pay through a bar-code scan or Bluetooth.

Additionally: "As daunting as its meandering lunch lines might seem, the restaurant is serving burritos quicker than ever," writes Bloomberg BusinessWeek. "In the fourth quarter, Chipotle managed to add six transactions per hour during its peak lunch rush and five transactions per hour during the dinner peak, according to co-CEO Montgomery Moran."

And then there's the news that the company, which is diversifying through similar Asian and pizza concepts, recently enjoyed the highest stock price in its history — $551.96. (Shares are sitting at $540.59 currently.)

"My advice, which I've been giving to anyone who will listen over the last year, is to pick up shares of Chipotle, even after the stock's massive surge on Friday," writes The Motley Fool. "The company remains one of the best investments in the restaurant industry and is still in a relatively early growth phase. Chipotle, with two new restaurant brands still in their infancy, should continue to spice up portfolios for years to come."

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