Chipotle partners to launch Pizzeria Locale

By: The Associated Press
December 18, 2013 Updated: December 18, 2013 at 11:53 am
photo - Gerald Rhodes prepares pies at Pizzeria Locale in Denver. (Kristen Browning-Blas, The Denver Post)
Gerald Rhodes prepares pies at Pizzeria Locale in Denver. (Kristen Browning-Blas, The Denver Post) 

Hold the guacamole: Chipotle is moving into the pizza business.

The casual Mexican chain said Wednesday that it opened its first pizza restaurant back in May in Denver. Chipotle said it partnered with the owners of Pizzeria Locale, a full-service pizza restaurant in Boulder, Colo., to turn it into a fast-casual chain with the same name. Chipotle is looking to open two more locations in Denver.

Pizzeria Locale has a similar set-up to Chipotle. Customers walk up to a food bar and can watch as their pizza is built. Customers can choose their own toppings, ranging from anchovies to zucchini, or order one of 10 pizzas already on the menu. The pizza is then placed into a custom-designed oven that cooks it in about 2 minutes. Pizzeria Locale also serves Italian red and white wines and side dishes such as pork meatballs and proscuitto.

Other pizza chains feature similar fast-cooking, make-your-own concepts, including Pasadena, Calif.-based Blaze Pizza.

Chipotle has already tried transferring its fast-casual style to other styles of food. It opened ShopHouse, which serves Southeast Asian food, in Washington, D.C., in 2011. In now has six ShopHouse restaurants, located in the nation's capital and Los Angeles, and there are plans to open more.

Chipotle declined to give financial details of the partnership. Spokesman Chris Arnold said Chipotle is an equity partner in the fast-casual version of Pizzeria Locale and could become the majority owner over time. The full-service restaurant in Boulder was started by restaurateurs Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson in 2011. That location is not part of the partnership.

Shares of Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. rose 88 cents to $513.52 in midday trading Wednesday.

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