Chipotle loses CEO Monty Moran in the wake of “ongoing challenges”

Chipotle founder Steve Ells has full reigns of the company again after his co-CEO Monty Moran “stepped down”.

staff photo
Chipotle will try its hand at burgers, first in Lancaster, Ohio. (Mike Mozart/Flickr)

Chipotle will try its hand at burgers, first in Lancaster, Ohio. (Mike Mozart/Flickr)

Chipotle founder Steve Ells has full reign of the company again Monday after his co-CEO Monty Moran “stepped down.”

Ells said operations for the Denver-based restaurant chain have become over complicated and that he wants to get back to the original mission of “making better food accessible to more people.” Moran will officially retire from Chipotle in 2017, according to a release from the company.

Chipotle is still recovering from the dip in sales that followed the Norovirus, E. coli and Salmonella outbreaks that sickened hundreds across the U.S last year. The company reported in October that revenue for the first nine months of the year was down 18.1 percent to $2.9 billion. Restaurant sales were down 21.9 percent.

“Given the ongoing challenges facing the company, the board felt strongly that it was best for Steve to resume leadership of the company going forward,” said Neil Flanzraich, lead director of Chipotle’s board, in the release.

Last month, Reuters reported that two smaller investors were calling for Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. to replace Ells with an independent director. Doubling down on Ells appeared to be a good strategy Monday morning. Following the announcement the company’s stock was on the rise.

Since starting Chipotle in 1993, Ells grew the company into one of the nation’s largest restaurant chains with more than 2,200 locations in five countries. He served as Chairman and CEO of Chipotle from ’93 until 2009 when he became co-CEO. Moran was appointed to be the other co-CEO in 2009 after serving as Chipotle’s chief operating officer for about four years.

Subscribe to Denverite’s newsletter here.

Business & data reporter Adrian D. Garcia can be reached via email at or