ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen

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ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen
FoundedSeptember 15, 2011; 7 years ago (2011-09-15) in Washington, DC[1]
DefunctMarch 17, 2017; 21 months ago (2017-03-17)
Number of locations
15 (July 2016)[2]
Area served
California, Illinois, Maryland, and Washington, DC
ParentChipotle Mexican Grill

ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen, or simply ShopHouse, was an American restaurant chain specializing in Southeast Asian cuisine. Its name derived from the shophouse, a common building type in urban Southeast Asia. The first ShopHouse opened in September 2011 in Washington, D.C.[1] As of April 2016, there were a total of fourteen ShopHouse locations, in California, Chicago, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. ShopHouse was owned and operated by Chipotle Mexican Grill, and used a similar serving format.[3]

Like Chipotle, ShopHouse restaurants were company-owned, rather than franchised.[4] Its competitors included Panda Express, P. F. Chang's, Pick Up Stix,[5] and to a small extent Noodles & Company.[6] On October 25, 2016, founder, Steve Ells, said during an earnings call that the company "decided not to invest further in growing the ShopHouse brand." [7] All ShopHouse locations were closed on March 17, 2017.[8][9]

Concept development[edit]

The ShopHouse concept was primarily developed by Chipotle's director of concept development Tim Wildin, who was born in Bangkok and spent all of his childhood summers there. Wildin had been working in the marketing department at Chipotle and realized that if he could follow Chipotle’s business model and combine it with his knowledge of traditional Southeast Asian cuisine, he could bring the taste of his homeland to the American masses. Culinary manager Nate Appleman was responsible for developing some recipes and the procedures to produce the final product. Wildin was responsible with the look of the facilities, the locations of the restaurants, and marketing.[10][11][12][13]


The first ShopHouse opened on Connecticut Avenue, in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Opened on September 15, 2011, the location was intended to test consumer response before further expansion.[14] After almost two years, the second ShopHouse, the first on the West Coast, opened in Hollywood on June 17, 2013.[15][16]

Lunch bowl and fountain soda from ShopHouse

In the last half of 2013, four new locations were quickly opened, two on each coast. A second D.C. location in Georgetown was opened in August.[17] In October, a second Los Angeles-area location was opened in Santa Monica[18] and also a location in Maryland opened in Bethesda[19] on the other side of the country. At the end of 2013, a location in Westwood, Los Angeles was opened in December.[20]

Three D.C.-area locations were opened in 2014; in D.C. Chinatown in May;[21][22] at The Mall in Columbia in the D.C. suburb of Columbia, Maryland, as part of that mall's expansion;[3][23] and at Union Station in D.C. in November.[24][25]

After quite a bit of activity in 2014, a D.C.-area location in North Bethesda[26][27] was opened in Maryland in March 2015 to make a total of 10 ShopHouse locations in the nation by the end of March 2015. The following year, a fourth location in Maryland was opened in Silver Spring in March 2016.[28]

In 2014, The Motley Fool noted that Chipotle was expanding the ShopHouse concept rather slowly when compared with the expansion of Noodles & Company during the same time period.[6] A writer for MarketWatch commented in 2015 that some of the procedures that Chipotle had developed for providing affordable quality burritos quickly "may not work with other cuisines".[29] As of 2015, there had been on the average three new ShopHouses opened each year while there had been 150 new Chipotles opened annually during the same time period, or nearly three opens per week.[30] ShopHouse defended their decision of having a relatively slow roll out by responding to their critics that they are still trying to shape the brand by getting everything done right before they duplicate the procedures and replicate it in a new location. In this way, they would like to provide great products in an efficient and cost effective manner that would entice customers to return frequently.[31][32]

It was announced in May 2015 that the first location in the Midwest was planned to be opened in the Chicago Loop during Fall 2015.[33][34][35] A further announcement was later made in October stating that a location in Schaumburg, Illinois, is planned to be open in November with another location is planned to be open in downtown Chicago in December.[36][37] Both Illinois locations opened on schedule with great reviews along with a few minor complaints.[38]

After a two years hiatus on the West Coast, a fourth Los Angeles area location was opened in July 2015 in El Segundo[39] followed by a fifth L.A. location, the 15th in the nation, in July 2016 in West Hollywood.[40] The West Hollywood location was the first case in which the restaurant shared a common wall, parking lot and outdoor patio with a Chipotle restaurant.[40][41]

On October 25, 2016, founder, Steve Ells, said during an earnings call that the company "decided not to invest further in growing the ShopHouse brand." [7] All ShopHouse locations were scheduled to close on March 17, 2017.[8]


ShopHouse food was mostly inspired by Malaysian, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine.[5][42] Customers start with a base of chilled rice noodles, jasmine rice, brown rice, or salad and choose meat (or tofu), a vegetable, a sauce, a garnish, and a topping. The restaurant provided several suggested combinations.[43] Some ShopHouse locations served Southeast Asian beer, such as Beerlao, Chang, and Singha.

Initially, the restaurant served bánh mì in addition to bowls, but the sandwiches were quickly dropped a few months later[44] after receiving mostly negative reviews on the quality of bread that was being used[45] and ShopHouse's inability to find a dependable supplier of decent bread.[30]

Unlike Chipotle, ShopHouse varied the ingredients available to their customers by adding seasonable vegetables to their menu that depended on local availability, such as kale,[22] summer squash,[46] butternut squash,[47][48] parsnips,[49] and collard greens.[49]

In 2014, ShopHouse began to offer their first dessert, a coconut rice and mango parfait.[23]

In 2016, the company began testing fried spring rolls at their West Hollywood location.[40]


Tom Sietsema of The Washington Post called ShopHouse "one of the best fast food ideas in years."[50]

The reviewer for Midtown Lunch said the food was not as sweet as overly sweet foods found in the heavily Americanized Asian chain restaurants, but closer to the authentic cuisines.[51] The reviewer also said he the food is spicier than what one would expect from a chain, great for people who enjoy spicier foods (and a wall full of additional hot sauces for person who don't think the food is spicy enough) but not so great for people who want relatively bland foods.[51] The downside to the concept is that the flavors could easily get "muddled" by selecting the wrong combinations of components.

A food writer for Forbes Magazine who was born in Malaysia and specializes in writing about Asian cuisine, gave the chain a mixed review. Although she thought the individual components had great flavor, she believed that it is a big mistake for ShopHouse to allow the individual components to be mixed together in a single bowl and suggests that the food would taste better if components were kept separate, like in a bento box. She wrote that "all those carefully crafted flavors were at the end muted and lost" and believed that the cause of the taste confusion is caused by "a lack of respect for national cuisines or even particular genres within national cuisines."[52]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b McKeever, Amy (September 15, 2011). "Chipotle's New ShopHouse Concept Officially Open In DC". Eater.
  2. ^ Choi, Candice (July 28, 2016). "Chipotle branching out, plans to open burger restaurant". Los Angeles Times. AP. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Lavoie, Luke (25 August 2014). "ShopHouse opens in expanding Columbia mall open-air plaza". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  4. ^ Pino, Isaac (2 July 2014). "10 Things You Need to Know About Chipotle's Pizza and Asian Concepts". The Motley Fool. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  5. ^ a b Reimer, Miriam (16 September 2011). "Chipotle Opens First Asian-Style Restaurant In D.C." Business Insider. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  6. ^ a b Koslosky, John-Erik (2014-03-04). "Why Chipotle Should Be in No Rush to Expand ShopHouse". The Motley Fool.
  7. ^ a b Frederick, Missy (26 October 2016). "The Future is Unclear for D.C.'s ShopHouse Restaurants". Eater Washington DC. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  8. ^ a b Maze, Jonathan (9 March 2017). "Exclusive: Chipotle closing ShopHouse chain". Nation's Restaurant News. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  9. ^ Hatic, Dana (March 9, 2017). "Chipotle Will Shut Down All ShopHouse Asian Kitchen Restaurants: All 15 locations will close on March 17". Eater.
  10. ^ "ShopHouse". Eat REAL. Retrieved 2016-05-30.
  11. ^ McKeever, Amy (2012-09-13). "Nate Appleman and Tim Wildin on Developing ShopHouse, Chipotle's Southeast Asian Concept". Eater DC. Retrieved 2016-05-30.
  12. ^ McKeever, Amy (2012-09-14). "Nate Appleman and Tim Wildin on ShopHouse's Constant Evolution and Expansion Plans". Eater DC. Retrieved 2016-05-30.
  13. ^ Inc., M. Shanken Communications,. "Son Of Chipotle | News | Features | Food Arts". Retrieved 2016-05-30.
  14. ^ Aristotle Munarriz, Rick (28 September 2011). "Test-Driving Chipotle's New ShopHouse Eatery". Fox Business Network. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  15. ^ Almendrala, Anna (13 June 2013). "ShopHouse Opens In LA; Southeast Asian Restaurant Based On Chipotle Model". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  16. ^ Odell, Kat (2013-06-13). "Is ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen the Next Chipotle?". Eater LA.
  17. ^ Judkis, Maura (7 August 2013). "New ShopHouse to open in Georgetown Aug. 19". The Washington Post. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  18. ^ Odell, Kat (16 October 2013). "ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen Flavors Santa Monica". Eater LA. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  19. ^ Kraut, Aaron (2013-10-30). "ShopHouse Opens At Bethesda Row". Bethesda Magazine.
  20. ^ "ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen to open Tuesday". Daily Bruin. 2013-12-09.
  21. ^ Frederick, Missy (May 2, 2014). "ShopHouse Chinatown". Eater Washington DC.
  22. ^ a b Ramanathan, Lavanya (May 5, 2014). "ShopHouse goes seasonal, adds Chinatown location". Washington Post.
  23. ^ a b "ShopHouse Opens in Columbia, MD". QSR Magazine (Press release). August 26, 2014.
  24. ^ Frederick, Missy (May 7, 2014). "ShopHouse in Talks for Union Station". Eater Washington DC.
  25. ^ Baitz, Alison (November 17, 2014). "ShopHouse Union Station Opens Wednesday". Eater Washington DC.
  26. ^ Frederick, Missy (2015-03-06). "Opening Report: Another ShopHouse, AMP Both Opening". Eater Washington DC.
  27. ^ Metcalf, Andrew (February 27, 2015). "Small Bites: ShopHouse to Open in March in North Bethesda". Bethesda Magazine.
  28. ^ Metcalf, Andrew (March 10, 2016). "ShopHouse Set to Open Next Week in Silver Spring: This will be the third Montgomery County location for the Asian fast casual chain". Bethesda Magazine.
  29. ^ Passy, Charles (2015-07-26). "10 things Chipotle won't tell you". MarketWatch.
  30. ^ a b McKeever, Amy (2012-09-14). "Nate Appleman and Tim Wildin on ShopHouse's Constant Evolution and Expansion Plans". Eater Washington DC.
  31. ^ "Lessons from the first year of ShopHouse, the "Asian Chipotle"". Restaurant Business. December 1, 2012.
  32. ^ Dyke, Corrie (August 21, 2013). "ShopHouse's Fresh Fast Food Intrepreneur". Georgetowner.
  33. ^ Gerzina, Daniel (May 19, 2015). "Shophouse, Chipotle's Asian Concept, Snags First Chicago Location in Loop". Eater Chicago.
  34. ^ Frost, Peter (May 19, 2015). "ShopHouse, an Asian-inspired Chipotle offshoot, coming to the Loop". Crain's Chicago Business.
  35. ^ Vettel, Phil (May 19, 2015). "Chipotle's ShopHouse concept headed to Chicago". Chicago Tribune.
  36. ^ Pang, Kevin (October 8, 2015). "ShopHouse, Chipotle's Asian concept, now opening two Chicago locations". Chicago Tribune.
  37. ^ Selvam, Ashok (October 6, 2015). "Chipotle Confirms Shophouse Schaumburg, Reveals Opening Date In Loop". Eater Chicago.
  38. ^ Daley, Bill (December 8, 2015). "ShopHouse is here: We visit Chipotle's Southeast Asian restaurant". Chicago Tribune.
  39. ^ Elliott, Farley (July 30, 2015). "The Point Brings ShopHouse, True Food Kitchen, and North Italia to El Segundo". Eater LA.
  40. ^ a b c Jennings, Lisa (May 2, 2016). "ShopHouse continues slow and steady growth: Still a "growth seed" brand, more ShopHouse units planned for existing three markets". Nation's Restaurant News. (Subscription required (help)).
  41. ^ Elliott, Farley (March 24, 2015). "Jan's on Beverly Double-Dips Into Both A Chipotle and ShopHouse After All". Eater LA.
  42. ^ Morrison, Maureen (16 May 2011). "Table Set for Fast-Casual Asian Invasion". Advertising Age. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  43. ^ Zeveloff, Julie (27 December 2013). "What It's Like To Eat At ShopHouse, The Asian Version Of Chipotle That Diners Love". Business Insider. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  44. ^ Sidman, Jessica (2012-08-14). "ShopHouse Says Bye-Bye to Banh Mi". Washington City Paper.
  45. ^ Spiegel, Anna (2011-09-16). "ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen Makes Its Debut: The Asian-themed Chipotle spinoff—the first of its kind—brings customizable noodle bowls, rice bowls, and banh mi to DC's Dupont Circle". Washingtonian.
  46. ^ "ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen Introduces Summer Squash". DC Outlook (Press release). July 7, 2014.
  47. ^ "ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen Introduces Butternut Squash: Southeast Asian-Inspired Restaurant Expands Seasonal Menu". DC Outlook (Press release). October 10, 2014.
  48. ^ Kang, Matthew (October 9, 2014). "ShopHouse Launches New Squash Entree, Lobstoberfest at Mondrian, More!". Eater LA.
  49. ^ a b "ShopHouse Debuts 2 New Seasonal Vegetables: ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen Introduces Parsnips and Collard Greens to Rotating Seasonal Menu". DC Outlook (Press release). February 10, 2015.
  50. ^ "The Chipotle Spinoff That's Being Called 'One Of The Best Fast-Food Ideas In Years'". The Huffington Post. 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2016-05-30.
  51. ^ a b Brooks, Zach (June 27, 2013). "Shophouse is the Best Asian Fast Food Concept Ever Launched by a Major Corporation (Sorry Panda Express!)". Midtown Lunch.
  52. ^ Arumugam, Nadia (October 11, 2011). "Why Chipotle's New Asian Eatery Has Missed the Mark". Forbes.

External links[edit]