On a typical weekday afternoon, students at the U of I campus can be seen by the masses inside the Chipotle Mexican Grill on Green Street. Students fill not only the main floor but can be seen lined up outside waiting to place their order. The well-known food chain has become one of the more popular dining locations on campus, and now it is transforming into something with a Southeast Asian twist.
Steve Ells, the founder of Chipotle, opened up his new creation, ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen, in Washington D.C. in late September.
ShopHouse is modeled after the buildings in Asia where families typically live in the upper floors of the buildings and run a restaurant on the ground floor. The menu consists of foods originally from places like Thailand and Vietnam.
During an interview with USA Today, Ells told reporters that he hopes ShopHouse goes beyond the stereotypical Asian food at other restaurants. According to USA Todau, his new restaurant does not have sweet and sour anything, and does not even offer costumers the option of using chopsticks.
Meals are also within a good price range as most meals can be purchased for six or seven dollars.
ShopHouse also stays true to the structure of Chipotle by offering costumers a simple menu from which they can order from and the food is still served on an assembly line where costumers can give the servers their customized orders.
Ells told USA Today that his restaurants “have more potential than anyone else to change the food culture in a positive way.”
Not only is Ells eliminating the stereotypical Asian food and utensils from his restaurants but he is also making his food healthier for his customers as well as more eco-friendly.
Just like Chipotle, the ingredients used for the food are all natural, and some are organic. The different meats used also do not contain any harmful substances such as added growth hormones or antibiotics that may be found in other fast-food dining establishments.
As students at the University currently enjoy having Chipotle on the campus and already have a wide variety of Asian cuisine options, there are currently no plans to incorporate a ShopHouse into the University campus.
“I think it would be great if we opened more [ShopHouses around the country],” Ells said to USA Today. “[But] Chipotle is where all our energy is going.”