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Chipotle Founder: McDonald’s Chicken Farm Was The ‘Most Absolutely Disgusting Thing’ I’ve Ever Seen

Chipotle Founder: McDonald’s Chicken Farm Was The ‘Most Absolutely Disgusting Thing’ I’ve Ever Seen

February 10, 2015

Originally published on http://thinkprogress.org

By the mid-2000s, McDonald’s had a 90 percent stake in Chipotle — but the two franchises couldn’t be any more different, especially when it came to food preparation, says Chipotle founder Steve Ells.

The entrepreneur recently recounted a visit to a McDonald’s-operated chicken farm, a facility he described to his family as “absolutely the most disgusting thing” he had “ever seen in his life.” That experience, in tandem with ongoing squabbles about Chipotle’s expansion and pressure from McDonald’s to add a drive-thru and breakfast menu, eventually compelled McDonald’s to divest its stake in the casual dining establishment in 2006.

“What we found at the end of the day was that culturally we’re very different,” Ells told the Bloomberg Business Insider. “There are two big things that we do differently. One is the way we approach food, and the other is the way we approach our people culture. It’s the combination of those things that I think make us successful.”

Chipotle, founded in 1993, had less than 20 locations in Colorado when the McDonald’s Corporation became a major investor in 1998. By the time McDonald’s divested, Chipotle had more than 500 locations across the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and France.

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