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Chipotle, You Sadden Me

February 7, 2012
Halloween 2006

I dressed as a burrito for Halloween in 2006. This wasn't the only year I crafted such a fine costume.

It pains me to write this blog entry. It really does. Because at worst, Chipotle is a mistress I cannot escape. At best, it is my one true love.

I love Chipotle. There is really no other way around it. I still remember the first day that I had it. I am one of those notoriously picky eaters that whenever picky eating comes up in conversations, people say, “Oh you think YOU know a picky eater? Well let me tell you about Steve Murphy…” and then they demand that I list off the 10 foods I eat.

But yes, I remember that first day like it was yesterday. It was about eight years ago when I was out in Los Angeles with a group of my college friends and stomachs were rumbling. A brilliant voice declared: “Let’s go to Chipotle.”

I was immediately suspicious. I had never heard of this “Chipotle” and it sounded far from the Americana food that I had relied on in my first 18 years of life. But my friend Matt S. (who became a doctor, mind you, so you know he’s smart) said: “Steve, trust me on this. You’ll be able to eat there.”

So we went. The setting was peculiar, but satisfying – lots of steel and aluminum, a pleasant maroon décor. The smells were delightful. Matt, knowing exactly the limitations of my diet, ordered me a burrito with just white rice and double chicken in it.

It was love at first bite.

(Author’s Note: My longtime girlfriend still claims that she was the first person to take me to a Chipotle. She is wrong, but I can understand why she thinks that. The look of pure joy in my eyes every time I bite into a tasty burrito or quesadilla could easily be mistaken for a virgin voyage into the wondrous land of the fast casual restaurant industry.)

Since then, I have been a self-confessed Chipotle addict. Every time people were hungry, I had a suggestion. The Chipotle workers recognized me. I was THAT guy, and I wasn’t ashamed of it.

True Chipotle Facts:

  1. I lived in rural Oklahoma for about seven months in 2008. The nearest Chipotle was in Tulsa, nearly two and half hours away (each way). I made the drive several times.
  2. While living in Las Vegas, I lost over 25 pounds to get to the healthiest weight of my life on an almost exclusive diet of Chipotle and daily exercise.
  3. Every time I hire a new person, I treat them to lunch at – you guessed it – Chipotle.

This can go on for quite a while. The truth of the matter is that I have been an ardent and vocal supporter, often posting about Chipotle (and its pet projects, such as Food, Inc. and America’s Next Great Restaurant) on Facebook and Google Plus. I have blogged about the company multiple times.  My first Youtube video even featured it. A simple search for “Chipotle” in my email account shows up hundreds of results. I have G-chatted, AIMed, and even used the spoken word to promote Chipotle.

And now, I’m banned (from its official home on Facebook).


Even my dog loves Chipotle.

Today, Chipotle blocked and banned me from its official social media page. I was not profane, derogatory, unruly, or rude. I was complimentary of the company’s food, but made a single valid critique on how it conducts business on its social media page. Insta-hammer-ban.

Let me explain.

A person commented on Chipotle’s official Facebook page, saying the following: “I wish you guys catered. I’d love to serve Chipotle to the guests at my wedding.”

Now many of you might think that’s absurd. I think it’s downright genius. In fact, when I was an adolescent, dragged to more weddings than I could count by my family, I always made a solemn pledge to myself – my wedding would have Pizza Hut, KFC, and all the other amazing fast food restaurants that a kid loves (keep in mind I hadn’t discovered Chipotle yet). I still just need to find a bride who will relent on this issue.

But anyway, my friend Ryan objected, saying (and I’m reciting from memory here, because the comment has since been deleted): “Chipotle at a wedding? Not exactly the classiest dinner.”

I responded (according to my memory): “Ryan, are you kidding? Chipotle at a wedding would be amazing.”

That is all. Nothing crazy, nothing outrageous, nothing absurd.

A few minutes later, Ryan posted on my wall that he had been banned by Chipotle’s Facebook moderator. As someone who thinks he knows at least basic social media principles (I have helped monitor a Facebook page with 50,000 users, and have hired a social media coordinator for my company), I posted the following on Chipotle’s wall (again, going off my memory here):

Stephen A. Murphy: “You really shouldn’t ban and block people who make slightly negative posts about your products. That’s so 2007. Sincerely, A Former CMG Stockholder”

(Author’s Note: The stockholder part is true, although I didn’t sell over this. I sold CMG at a nice profit because I didn’t think they could sustain their customer base with their rising prices. So far, I’ve been wrong about this.)


This is a screenshot of my recent orders from Chipotle on my mobile phone. Yes, it is disturbing.

Anyway, Chipotle’s Facebook moderator insta-banned me, removed me from the page, and deleted all my posts.

A bit of an overreaction, if you ask me.

Anyway, I’m not really sure what to say or think about all this. I feel like I’m too old to make such boastful claims of “I’ll never eat there again!” because I certainly don’t want a random social media admin affecting my day-to-day life. But for a company like Chipotle – that prides itself on transparency and honesty in the way it does business – it just seems like such a sharply hypocritical way to conduct its social media page. I get that it may save resources in the short-term to just have a blanket policy, but that’s the thing – it is incredibly shortsighted. Alienating your most loyal customers is not a “recipe” for success. (Zing.)

I’ve written to Chipotle’s headquarters to ask if it is the company’s official policy to remove most perceived negative comments, or if it was just a misstep by the social media moderator working today. I will update here if the company responds.

By the way, I have no personal vendetta against the social media moderator who banned me. Looking at the page, he’s busting his butt to respond to people in a timely and informative way. But man, oh man, did he get this one wrong… And if he was following Chipotle’s official protocol… well, that just sucks.

I’ve attached a number of images to this blog post that reiterate my love and admiration for Chipotle over the years (from literally hundreds to choose from). In summary, I have pretty much been the ideal customer – sharing and recruiting at every step of the way.

To enhance the irony of the timing of the ban, the three previous meals that I had eaten prior to the ban were of course from Chipotle. This week, for only the third time in my life, I will find a Qdoba and see what they can do for me.

All I have to say is this – Chipotle, you screwed up.


Your Boy

P.S. I don’t want a free burrito. I would just like a mea culpa.

P.P.S. Steve Ells, you remain my hero. But tighten things up over there.

P.P.P.S. Family and friends, let’s slow down all the Chipotle gift cards that you get me until we get this thing resolved.

P.P.P.P.S. Shout-out to Cindy Capitani, who immediately saw news value in my anecdotal tale and blogged about it.

Update (Feb.8, 8:25 a.m.): It is not their official policy to delete. The social media rep has apologized. Will post more later when I have time.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2012 9:13 pm

    Ha! Great post Steve. Nicely done. As a picky eater myself (particularly picky), I can’t say I get the whole Chipotle thing. I like them. But not a lot. But what I really don’t get is their whole social media thing. I’m sure it’s not “their” social media thing, but merely a bad call by the moderator. At any rate, I’m glad I inspired you to blog; you’ve got a great voice. And Chipotle owes you and your pal burritos for life!

  2. Nick z permalink
    February 7, 2012 11:16 pm

    How do you know chipotle’s fbook moderator is a “he”????

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