Chipotle Franchise Cost, Fees & Requirement 2024

When it comes to Mexican-style fast food, there’s no denying that Chipotle is a fan favorite.

Founded in 1993 by Steve Ells, Chipotle offers its customers a unique experience unlike any other fast-food chain: fresh ingredients, customizable meals, and a commitment to sustainability.

Considering the massive success of Chipotle and the countless fans that swear by its delicious burritos, tacos, and bowls, it’s no surprise that many potential franchise owners are curious about how to get in on the action.

In this article, we’ll answer the big question: does Chipotle offer franchise opportunities? And What is the Chipotle owner’s salary? Who owns Chipotle?

If not, what other options are available to entrepreneurs hoping to open a taco shop of their own? Read on to learn more.

Chipotle Franchise

About Chipotle

Chipotle is an iconic restaurant chain known for its Mexican-style menu, made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

Its signature burrito bowl is served in a to-go container and filled with your choice of beans, rice, vegetables, and proteins.

Despite the brand’s limited menu, customers still have plenty of options when it comes to customization: they can choose from different proteins, mix-and-match toppings, and even select the type of tortilla they’d like.

In addition to its commitment to an ethical and sustainable business model, Chipotle also prides itself on providing excellent customer service. 

Employees are trained to be attentive and accommodating to customers’ needs to ensure that every visit is a pleasant experience.

This focus on customer satisfaction has helped Chipotle become America’s favorite Mexican food chain, according to many surveys and studies.

Considering the massive success of Chipotle and the countless fans that swear by its delicious burritos, tacos, and bowls, it’s no surprise that many potential franchise owners are curious about how to get in on the action.

Chipotle Franchise History

Chipotle Franchise History

Chipotle has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1993.

Founded by Steve Ells after seeing the popularity of taquerías and San Francisco burritos in the Mission District, the first Chipotle restaurant opened in Denver with an $85,000 loan from his father.

The business quickly took off, and within a month, they were already selling over 1,000 burritos each day.

In 1996, Ells’ father invested an additional $1.5 million into the business and raised an additional $1.8 million.

Ells originally planned to use these funds to open a fine-dining restaurant, but after the success of Chipotle, he decided to focus solely on the Mexican grill.

Two years later, in 1998, McDonald’s became an investor and became the chain’s largest investor by 2001.

The fast-food giant requested that Chipotle franchise eight of its restaurants, but the experiment didn’t work out, and Chipotle ended up buying them back when McDonald’s fully divested in 2006.

Today, Chipotle has 3,162 stores in the U.S. and 44 international locations; its success is due to a combination of factors such as using fresh ingredients for its food, having dedicated customer service staff for every visit, and creating sustainable business models for development.

Franchise Model Table

Cost Or FeesAmount
Initial InvestmentN/A
Franchise FeeN/A
Estimated Outlets3,200+

How Much Does It Cost To Open a Chipotle Franchise

While many potential franchise owners are curious about how to open a Chipotle of their own, unfortunately, Chipotle does not offer franchising opportunities.

For over twenty years, Chipotle has been independently owned and operated.

Its founder, Steve Ells, preferred to keep the company under his ownership rather than allow others to purchase franchises.

This gave him full control over the quality and consistency of the food served at each location.

After McDonald’s invested in the company in 1998, they requested that Chipotle franchise eight of its locations; however, this experiment failed, and Chipotle bought them back when McDonald’s fully divested in 2006.

It may be disappointing for some aspiring entrepreneurs who would love to join the Chipotle team as a franchise owner; however, other options exist, such as opening an independent Mexican restaurant or taco shop.

With careful planning and research, future business owners can create a restaurant concept that stands out from all other competitors and makes customers happy with its unique offerings.

Why Doesn’t Chipotle Offer Franchising?

Why Doesn't Chipotle Offer Franchising

Chipotle has been independently owned and operated since its founding in 1993, and the chain’s founder, Steve Ells, never intended to offer franchising opportunities.

This is because he wanted full control over the ingredients and customer service experience in each restaurant.

The company strives to provide high-quality food that is consistent from location to location, so having full control over its restaurants is essential for achieving this goal.

Additionally, Ells believes that having company-owned restaurants helps maintain the unique culture of Chipotle.

While Chipotle opened a few franchises for a short time in the late 90s and early 2000s, this experiment did not work out as planned.

As a result, Chipotle is no longer offering franchising opportunities and has kept the chain independently owned and operated.

Finally, when asked why they don’t franchise their restaurants like most other fast-food companies do, the answer given is usually “because we don’t need to.”

Since Chipotle already has 3162 stores in the U.S. and 44 international locations, they are doing very well without franchising branches out even further.

What Are Some Alternatives To Chipotle Franchise?

Although Chipotle doesn’t offer franchising opportunities, there are several other excellent options available for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to open a Mexican restaurant.

Here are some of the top alternatives to consider:

Taco Bell

Taco Bell is a well-known fast-food chain that has been serving Mexican-inspired dishes since 1962.

The concept was founded by Glen Bell, who opened the first location in Downey, California.

Since then, Taco Bell has expanded to become one of the most popular fast food chains in the United States and other countries worldwide.

For those looking for an alternative to Chipotle franchise opportunities, Taco Bell offers franchising opportunities with an initial investment of $525,000–$2,600,000.

This includes acquisition costs such as franchise fees, building construction, and equipment purchases. 

As a franchisee, you also have access to training materials tailored to help you get your business up and running quickly and efficiently.


Qdoba is another excellent alternative to Chipotle franchise opportunities.

Founded in 1995, Qdoba offers a wide variety of Mexican-inspired dishes such as burritos, tacos, quesadillas, nachos, and salads.

Like Chipotle, the company strives to serve quality cuisine made with fresh ingredients and high-quality proteins like beef and chicken.

Qdoba also offers vegetarian and vegan options for those who do not eat meat or animal products.

In addition to this, Qdoba has expanded its menu to include breakfast items such as egg burritos and sausage rolls.

This makes it an ideal option for customers looking for a quick meal on their way to work or school in the morning.

For those interested in becoming a Qdoba franchisee, there is an initial investment of $454,000–$738,000.

This initial investment covers franchise fees, real estate and construction costs, equipment and supplies, initial inventory, permits and licenses, grand opening expenses, and training costs.

Baja Fresh

Baja Fresh is another excellent alternative to Chipotle franchise opportunities.

Founded in 1990, this chain of fast-casual Tex-Mex restaurants is well known for its freshly prepared Mexican food.

The menu features items such as tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and salads made with fresh ingredients and high-quality proteins like beef and chicken.

Baja Fresh franchise opportunities require an initial investment of $202,200–$695,200.

This includes a franchise fee of $50,000, which is slightly higher than most other franchise opportunities.

Baja Fresh also requires that the prospective franchisee have a minimum net worth of $500,000 and liquid assets of at least $250,000 in order to qualify for financing.

Franchisees benefit from Baja Fresh’s brand recognition and established presence in many U.S. states and countries worldwide (including Mexico).

Furthermore, potential franchisees have access to experienced franchise training and support teams.

Opportunities abound for entrepreneurs in fast food franchising, including brands like Waffle House Franchise, White Castle, KFC Franchise, Krispy Kreme, and Burger King.

Chipotle Comparison

CompanyChipotleTaco Bell
Year Founded19931962
Franchise FeeN/A$25,000–$50,000
Initial InvestmentN/A$525,000–$2,600,000
Number of Outlets3,200+55,000+


Chipotle is undeniably one of the world’s most popular Mexican-inspired fast food chains.

Unfortunately, Chipotle does not offer franchise opportunities, making it difficult for aspiring entrepreneurs to join the business.

If you’re looking to become a fast food franchisee, there are plenty of excellent alternatives to Chipotle.

Taco Bell, Qdoba, and Baja Fresh all offer franchise opportunities that require an initial investment.

In a recent announcement, Chipotle revealed that it has forged a groundbreaking agreement with the Alshaya Group, a Kuwait-based company, marking its inaugural partnership with a franchisee. This means that Chipotle had entered the Middle East with the first-ever franchisee partnership.

Now that you know more about Chipotle alternatives, you can make an informed decision that’s right for your budget and goals.

Frequently asked questions 

How Much Does It Cost To Open a Franchise Similar to Chipotle?

The cost of opening a franchise similar to Chipotle will vary depending on the franchise. Generally, the initial investment can range from $202,200–$3,000,000.

Does Chipotle Offer Franchising?

No, Chipotle does not offer to the franchise. All Chipotle restaurants are owned and operated by the company.

Who Owns Chipotle?

Chipotle is owned and operated by the company of the same name.

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