Chipotle reopens with promise of free burritos

- After closing its doors to customers on Monday morning, Chipotle is back open for business nationwide.

The fast-casual, Mexican food chain temporarily shut down on Monday, February 8 for a food safety meeting with its more than 50,000 employees across the United States.

For months, Chipotle has been troubled with health concerns. Issues of E. Coli sickened customers in California, and in December of 2015, more than 120 Boston College students contracted the norovirus after eating at a Chipotle near campus.

"I haven't had any bad experiences, but it's sad that it usually takes a bad experience to get you to stop doing something," said Andrew Pellegrino, a Chipotle customer at the restaurant on South Howard Avenue.

At Monday's meeting, via satellite, Chipotle's founders announced to their staff the company is committing up to $10 million to help its local growers get their produce and meat up to Chipotle's new, firmer safety standards.

The money will pay for additional food testing.

"I wish it could be done at almost all other [restaurants]. The food that we eat, it's got to be checked as much as possible," said Yohannes Almah, a frequent Chipotle customer.

The new food protocol also changes the schedule of meat marinating. Also, sensitive ingredients, like tomatoes, will be handled at central kitchens and employees who are sick are being urged to stay home, after concerns that the norovirus spread may have come from a sick employee.

Despite weeks of warnings from Chipotle, the temporary closure on Monday caught some customers off guard.

Some people waited outside the restaurant in SOHO for nearly 20 minutes until it reopened at 3 p.m.

"It's just unbelievable. I've never found Chipotle to be closed like this," said Almah, who frequents the restaurant each week.

Cashing in on the closure, Chipotle's biggest competitor, Moe's Southwest Grill, released a full-page USA Today ad that read, "We're open, especial on February 8."

The company spread the same message on social media Monday.

To make up for lost time, Chipotle is offering a free burrito to customers who text "Raincheck" to 888-222.

The coupon could take several days to arrive due to the high demand, according to Chipotle officials.

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