Steve Ells

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Steve Ells
Born (1966-09-12) September 12, 1966 (age 50)
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
Alma mater University of Colorado at Boulder (B.A.)
Culinary Institute of America
Known for Founding Chipotle Mexican Grill (with Chef Felix)
Net worth US$400 million

Steve Ells (born September 12, 1966)[1] is an American businessman. He is the founder, Co-CEO, and Chairman of Chipotle Mexican Grill. Ells founded Chipotle in 1993[1] and under his direction[2] the chain serves what it describes as "naturally raised meat" and promotes sustainable agriculture.[3]

Early life[edit]

Ells was born in Indianapolis, the son of a pharmaceutical executive.[4] He attended Boulder High School, the University of Colorado at Boulder (receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History) and Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, graduating in 1990.[5]


Ells served for two years as a sous chef under Jeremiah Tower[6] at Stars restaurant in San Francisco prior to launching Chipotle[1][7] and now sits on the board of directors of the Land Institute.[1] He borrowed money from family and friends to open the first Chipotle.[8]

We decided long ago that we didn't want Chipotle's success to be tied to the exploitation of animals, farmers, or the environment, but the engagement of our customers.

— Steve Ells[9]

In 2007, Ells received the CEO of the Year Award from ColoradoBiz magazine.[3]

In 2010, Ells joined the judging and investment panel on NBC's series America's Next Great Restaurant alongside Bobby Flay, Curtis Stone and Lorena Garcia.[10]


Ells has received criticism over his salary. In 2013, The New York Times reported he was paid $25.1 million, more than equivalent executives in companies like Ford, Boeing, and AT&T.[11] By the early 2010s, Ells and his co-chief, Montgomery Moran, were paid more than $300 million. In May 2014 shareholders rejected a plan to further the executives' wages.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d "Steve Ells Profile". Chipotle Mexican Grill. 
  2. ^ "Chipotle: Fast Food with 'Integrity'". Business Week, February 16, 2007. 
  3. ^ a b "2007 CEO of the year Chipotle's Steve Ells pursues fast-casual perfection". Colorado Business Magazine, Mike Taylor. 
  4. ^ "Fine Fast Food". Time Magazine, Steve Ells. September 21, 2007. Retrieved May 24, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Chipotle founder had big dreams". Rocky Mountain News, Rachel Brand, Dec 23, 2006. 
  6. ^ "Steve Ells Profile". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Marlene Parrish, June 04, 2007. 
  7. ^ Mclaughlin, Katy (April 29, 2006). "The Next Big Flavor". The Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2006, Katie McLaughlin. 
  8. ^ "The Top 10 Best Borrowed Sums in Business History". Kabbage. Retrieved 2016-04-04. 
  9. ^ "Eat a Burrito, Help a Family Farm.". Business Wire 8/28/2007, Denver. Retrieved 2016-04-04. 
  10. ^ "Curtis Stone and Two Others Join Bobby Flay Restaurant Series". 
  11. ^ Gelles, David (May 14, 2014). "Soaring Earnings of Chipotle's 2 Bosses Raise Investor Unease". The New York Times. 
  12. ^ Gelles, David (May 15, 2014). "Investors Reject Chipotle Chiefs' Pay Plan". The New York Times. 

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