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Chipotle to test drive-thru windows

Chipotle is making plans to test out what customers have long been asking for -- the chain’s first ever drive-thru. 

>> Read more trending news 

Tuesday, Chipotle executives announced they will be running a trial of a drive-thru option this fall at an undisclosed location in Ohio.

If all goes well, more Chipotle drive-thrus could be in the near future. 

The move is part of Chipotle’s plan to improve its reputation and its customer experience. The company has experienced at least two years of financial slump after customers reported illnesses like norovirus and E. coli after eating at restaurant locations.

“We saw encouraging signs in our improved financial results during the first half of the year,” Chipotle CEO Steve Ells said in a news release. “Recent events, however, have shown that we still have a lot of opportunity to improve our operations and deliver the outstanding experience that our customers expect.” 

Chipotle is currently testing a new queso offering, an avocado-citrus salad dressing, a dessert and a frozen margarita at the Chipotle NEXT Kitchen, a public test kitchen in New York City. The company is also considering price increases for menu items, but has met setbacks including an incident in which rodents were seen at a Chipotle restaurant in Dallas and a norovirus scare at a Virginia location.

Customers at Virginia Chipotle report illness, suspect norovirus

Chipotle temporarily closed one of its restaurants in Sterling, Virginia, after an unspecified amount of customers reported illnesses with symptoms consistent with norovirus after eating food at the Mexican grill, The Associated Press reported.

>> Read more trending news

According to the AP a “small number” of customers reported the illnesses. 

Chipotle said the company planned to reopen the Virginia location the same day after completing a full sanitation of the restaurant. 

Chipotle officials are working with health officials to discover the cause of the illnesses. Restaurant officials assured customers that norovirus does not come from its food supply.

>> Related: Chipotle testing queso offering

Chipotle’s shares dropped more than six percent Tuesday as investors responded to the incident with concern. 

Symptoms of norovirus include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhea. 

In 2015, Chipotle’s revenue and reputation suffered after an E. coli outbreak at restaurants in nine states and a norovirus outbreak at a Boston location. Approximately 500 customers reported illnesses.

“We may be at a higher risk for food-borne illness outbreaks than some competitors due to our use of fresh produce and meats, rather than frozen, and our reliance on employees cooking with traditional methods rather than automation,” Chipotle officials said at the time

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, restaurant workers are often the source of norovirus outbreaks, as they often touch foods such as raw fruits and vegetables with their bare hands before serving them.

In 2016, Chipotle shut down all locations for a day retrain employees on food safety.

 

Chick-fil-A tests large family style meals

Chick-fil-A has begun testing family style meals in three U.S. cities with plans to continue the offerings through November.

>> Read more trending news

The Family Style Meals include one entrée, two sides and eight mini rolls with the option to add additional entrees, sides and beverages.

The meals, which are served with plates, utensils and condiments, are made to serve up to four people. 

“Our customers told us that they wanted an even more convenient way to share meals at home or on the go, so we worked directly with a group of parents to design every part of Family Style Meals -- down to the cutlery caddy that features five unique conversation starter questions to help customers connect over mealtime,” Matt Abercrombie, Chick-fil-A manager of menu development, said in a news release. “Mealtime should be an enjoyable experience that brings family and friends together, not an extra stress in the day.”

>> Related: Chick-fil-A adds new sandwich, lemonade to summer menu

Customers can choose one of four entrees -- 12 Chick-n-Strips, four Original Chick-fil-A Chicken Breasts, 30 Chick-fil-A Nuggets or four Grilled Chicken Breasts -- and two of six sides, including baked beans, waffle potato chips, fruit cup, macaroni and cheese and side salad.

The Family Style Meals are being sold for $29.99 in Greensboro, North Carolina, Phoenix, Arizona, and San Antonio, Texas, until November 18.

“We heard that for a lot of people who are in charge of planning dinner, it’s really not that enjoyable,” Abercrombie said, according to Business Insider. “Some parents said ‘I don’t even eat until after my family is fed.’ That was a really big ‘aha!’ for us.”

>> Related: Chick-fil-A is now offering a gluten-free bun option

Chick-fil-A is testing the options in an effort to determine whether the Family Style Meals are to be offered in other cities. The company is also using the time to decide whether it will offer beans and macaroni and cheese as permanent side items.

The beans are kettle-cooked with bacon and brown sugar. The mac and cheese is made of a blend of cheddar, parmesan and romano cheeses.

Read more at Chick-fil-A.

World's biggest burger on sale for nearly $8,000

An American cheeseburger, weighing 1,794 pounds, has just become the world’s largest commercially sold burger. 

>> Read more trending news

Mallie’s Sports Grill & Bar in Detroit spent the past four years cooking up a plan to win back its Guinness World Records title from a Japanese restaurant, WXYZ reported.

Mallie’s reclaimed the title Monday after creating a super-sized hamburger with 300 pounds of cheese and 250 pounds of pickles, according to WXYZ.

This beefy meal, which stands 3 feet high, was made “in memory of his wife Renee who died from breast cancer, and as a birthday gift to his two daughters,” WXYZ reported. 

“It's a lifetime memory for them. I mean how many kids get to get an 1,800-pound hamburger on their birthday?” Steve Mallie told WXYZ. 

If you’re getting hungry reading this, you can order the burger for a small fee of $7,799.

Read more at WXYZ.

>> Related: Some call Costco’s new burger ‘Shake Shack copycat’

Chipotle testing queso offering

According to Eater, Chipotle is unveiling its only public-facing test kitchen in New York on Monday, called Chipotle NEXT Kitchen. On deck: a classic margarita and virgin strawberry variety, a salad with avocado citrus dressing and queso.

>> Read more trending news

That’s right. Queso, which the Mexican fast casual chain just previously said would not appear on its menu anytime soon due to the artificial ingredients needed to make the liquid gold suitable for a service line. That cheesy dip is the most requested item that’s not on Chipotle’s menu, Eater New York reported. In a Chipotle internal memo quoted by Eater, the restaurant’s CEO, Steve Ells, told employees Monday that the lack of queso has lead to lost business.

>> Related: Here's why Chipotle doesn't sell queso

To be clear: This does not mean that queso is headed to your local Chipotle, as it’s currently only available at the test kitchen. However, if you’ve held your queso dreams close to your burrito-eating heart, it’s certainly cause for optimism.

Chick-fil-A introduces new gluten-free bun

In response to customer requests, Chick-fil-A announced the addition of a new gluten-free bun option to its menu, making it one of the first fast food restaurants to offer the item.

>> Read more trending news 

The 150-calorie bun, made with premium ingredients like quinoa and amaranth and lightly sweetened with molasses and raisins, is now available in restaurants nationwide, according to a company news release.

>> Related: Chick-fil-A adds new sandwich, lemonade to summer menu

It comes individually packaged and can be ordered with any Chick-fil-A sandwich for an additional $1.15.

The company tested the option in three U.S. cities in 2016 and found the bun to be the most commonly ordered item with the grilled chicken sandwich and grilled chicken deluxe sandwich.

“Our hope is that the gluten-free bun addition opens up options for gluten-sensitive customers to enjoy more of our menu, Leslie Neslage, senior consultant of menu development at Chick-fil-A, said.

Gluten-free items are most commonly consumed by people with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the body mistakenly reacts to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, as if it were a poison.

Click here to read more information on the gluten-free bun and other gluten-free options at Chick-fil-A.

Woman sues Texas restaurant after flaming queso burns her

A 27-year-old woman suffered second- and third-degree burns after the flaming queso she ordered in May at a Mexican restaurant in Cedar Park, Texas, blew up in her face, according to a lawsuit.

>> Read more trending news

The woman sued Dos Salsas and its manager, William Plata. Plata could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.

The woman, an Austin resident, was eating at the restaurant on May 20 with her family when the incident happened, said her lawyer, Adam Loewy.

She ordered an appetizer called “Quesos Flameados,” the lawsuit said.

>> Related: Man dies after eating gas station nachos

The waitress serving the dish at the restaurant usually brings it to the table already on fire and sprays a chemical on it that makes the flames go straight up, Loewy said. That didn’t happen in this case, he said. A waitress brought it out and sprayed the chemical but instead of going up, the fire “went sideways and engulfed (the victim) in flames,” he said.

The woman who was burned dived to the ground and her family doused her with water, Loewy said. She was burned on her face, chest, neck and arms and was taken to a burn unit in San Antonio, he said.

The victim, who works in the insurance business, has been unable to return to work but has been released from the hospital, Loewy said. He said she will need plastic surgery.

The victim is suing the restaurant and its manager for more than $1 million.

“I think this is the height of negligence they would have a dish like this in which they have no fire training for the waitress,” said Loewy. “I think the evidence will show something like this was bound to happen.”

The lawsuit was filed Friday.

World's first Nutella Cafe opening in Chicago

The Nutella counter at the Chicago Eataly hub has enjoyed success, and the company has decided to erect a flagship Nutella Cafe in Chicago, just across from Millennium Park Plaza, on May 31.

A representative from Nutella told Chicago Eater that the two-story bar will be “the first to truly capture the essence of the Nutella brand -- not just in the dishes that’ll be served, but in the full experience.”

>> Read more trending news

The cafe will be two levels and will branch out from the bar at Eataly.

In addition to Nutella products, the location will serve soups, salads and paninis. The Chicago Nutella Cafe will also serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, gelato, crepes and espresso, according to Eater.

>> Related: An Italian deli institution of Chicago is sadly shutting its doors after nearly 70 years

While Chicago will have the world’s first Nutella Cafe, the company has similar locations all over the world, including a shop in Palestine and kiosks in Sao Paulo.

According to their website, Nutella originated in 1946 when a shortage of cocoa supplies after the second World War caused an inventive pastry maker in Italy to begin using hazelnuts in his spreads. Today, the company is worth billions of dollars.

Chick-fil-A adds new sandwich, lemonade to summer menu

Chick-fil-A is offering its customers the savory tastes of a backyard barbecue with two new summer menu items.

>> Read more trending news

The Atlanta-based fast food chain introduced its new Smokehouse BBQ Bacon Sandwich and Watermelon Mint Lemonade on Monday. The summer sandwich and beverage will be rolled out nationwide at all Chick-fil-A locations today through Aug. 19.

The barbecue sandwich includes up Chick-fil-A’s signature grilled chicken with bacon glazed in a brown sugar pepper blend and Colby Jack cheese on a Hawaiian-style bun, topped with a smokehouse barbecue sauce. The 500-calorie sandwich costs $5.59 before tax.

The new minty beverage, which Chick-fil-A suggests pairing with the Smokehouse BBQ Bacon Sandwich, adds watermelon and mint flavors to the chain’s beloved fresh-squeezed lemonade at 200 calories. A small drink costs $1.85 and is also available in a diet variety.

Chick-fil-A backs its new seasonal sandwich up with science, reporting more than 95 percent of U.S. consumers like barbecue.

“We know our customers love the flavors of our grilled menu, and we are excited to offer two items this season that will give them something new to try,” David Farmer, Chick-fil-A vice president of menu strategy and development, said in a news release.

The Smokehouse BBQ Bacon Sandwich “was incredibly popular in test markets. I hope our customers are as excited as I am to get this kind of high-quality sandwich at the drive-thru,” Farmer said. “We hope customers will enjoy the new ingredients and flavor combinations in our Smokehouse BBQ Bacon Sandwich and Watermelon Mint Lemonade all summer long.”

>> Four Atlanta restaurants are the 'best barbecue joints in America,' according to ranking

Chick-fil-A added another limited-time menu item in March when it introduced the Frosted Strawberry Lemonade, a spin on the Frosted Lemonade, which the company introduced in 2015. The Frosted Strawberry Lemonade, described by Chick-fil-A as a “seasonal twist on a customer favorite,” is a combination of Chick-fil-A’s signature lemonade, the vanilla Icedream and strawberry purée. It’s being offered nationwide through May 20.

Brianna Chambers contributed to this report. 

Chipotle to debut first dessert

Chipotle plans to add a dessert item to its menu this year.

The Denver-based Mexican grill announced Tuesday it will begin testing a fried dough dessert next month, Business Insider reported

>> Read more trending news

Chipotle’s buñuelos, a traditional Mexican dessert, are fried tortillas sprinkled with honey, cinnamon and sugar. They’re to be served with caramel-apple dipping sauce.

“It’s simple to make and requires us to add just a few additional ingredients,” Chipotle CEO Steve Ells said, according to Yahoo. “They’re delicious and complement our menu nicely.”

It’s unclear which locations nationwide will offer the dessert first. 

Although Chipotle announced last year that it would be adding a dessert item to the menu, the buñuelo comes as a surprise, as many speculated the restaurant chain would debut churros as its first dessert.Chipotle is known for being slow to change its menu. According to Business Insider, the addition of buñuelos will be the company’s third major change in 20 years.

The most recent addition was chorizo, which Chipotle began offering in October. 

The company also announced that sales at restaurants that have been open at least a year rose 17.8 percent in the first quarter, and revenue increased 28.1 percent to $1.07 billion. Chipotle’s stock rose, and Ells said the increases indicates a “strong start” to the year.

>> Related: Here's why Chipotle doesn't sell queso

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