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Food Trends

Chipotle investors looking to oust founder Steve Ells as chairman

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 (Reuters)

It’s been a rough year for Chipotle Mexican Grill and now two investors are reportedly ready for a major corporate shake up to get the company back on the right track.

On Tuesday, Amalgamated Bank and CtW Investment Group (two company shareholders) filed a proposal calling for Steve Ells, the burrito chain’s founder, to be removed as chairman and replaced with an independent director, reports Reuters. Ells would still retain his other title and job as co-chief executive officer.

Chipotle shares have plummeted over the past year and half when the company experienced a series of food-borne illness outbreaks at restaurants across the country. This year, the company has tried several tactics to turn things around including a summertime rewards program, a spicy new meat offering and free booze at select locations.

But in June, company stock hit its lowest point in three years and a recent investor call revealed that chain sales still haven’t been restored to pre-crisis levels.  Shareholders have grown increasingly worried about Chipotle's ability to rehabilitate its brand and are currently looking to hire board members with expertise in the area of food safety.

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Last week, Ells touted the possibility of bringing in desserts and breakfast—an unusual step for Chipotle which rarely introduces new menu items.

If Ells is ousted as chairman, however, his functional role within the company would likely stay the same.  

Chipotle did not immediately respond to a request for comment.