The First Ever Chipotle Location Was Plagued With Disaster

The Chipotle we know and love today may seem to have its ducks mostly in a row — you know, besides the scandals it can never live down — but this hasn't always been the case. In fact, the first Chipotle had a really rough go from the moment it opened in 1993, with founder Steve Ells later admitting to NPR that he had no business background whatsoever. He was "just making this up as [he] went along."

According to Back of the Menu, Chipotle did not have a menu in its early days, and Ells only had two cooks to assist him in making burritos. However, while creating a menu and hiring staff were arguably within Ells' control, the first Chipotle came with a whole host of other problems that no one could have anticipated. To be fair, what more could you expect of an 850-square-foot former ice cream shop with decent rent?

It's a miracle Chipotle survived its early years

Not only did the first Chipotle make its home in a former ice cream shop, but it also shared water access with all other businesses on its block. In a 2015 interview with Bloomberg, Chipotle's social media marketing head Joe Stupp explained: "There was a hair salon next door. Whenever they were shampooing somebody's hair, you couldn't serve Coca-Cola because the water wouldn't come through."

Later in the interview, Stupp shared a story about one of Chipotle's first managers stealing their safe and running off with it, never to return. Granted, Chipotle wasn't making much money in its early days, selling only a hundred or so burritos a day; but, nonetheless, it was a rough start. 

Fortunately, Steve Ells and his team pulled through, and Chipotle had three locations by 1996. Today, the chain boasts more than 3,000 locations; and, obviously, is doing just fine selling its new burrito bowls. Talk about a major glow-up.