Serving Automation with a Side of Integrity: Chipotle's Scott Boatwright | Season 10, Vol. 7

Hospitality Hangout

Oct 3 2023 • 17 mins

The latest episode of “Hospitality Hangout” hosted by Michael Schatzberg, known as “The Restaurant Guy”, and Jimmy Frischling or “The Finance Guy”, the podcast with Scott Boatwright, the Chief Operating Officer of Chipotle Mexican Grill. It was a delightful spread of insightful career stories, automation in restaurant operations, and a sprinkle of light-hearted banter to top it off.

A Dishwasher’s Journey to COO

At 50, Scott Boatwright holds an impressive resume that starts from his initial role as a dishwasher, gradually climbing up the culinary and corporate ladder, showcasing an inspiring journey of diligence and passion for the food industry. With an MBA from Georgia State University and 18 years at Arby’s Restaurant Group under his belt, Scott joined Chipotle in May 2017, bringing a wealth of experience and commitment to restaurant operations and people-centric approaches.

Commitment to Food Integrity

Having been with Chipotle Mexican Grill for a significant time, Boatwright’s steadfast commitment to food integrity and innovative culinary techniques shines through. The COO diligently oversees the operations of over 3,250 restaurants worldwide, ensuring that each serves responsibly sourced, classically cooked meals without compromising on quality or taste. For Boatwright and the Chipotle team, it’s not just about serving food; it’s about cultivating a better world.

Automation with a Human Touch

The lively discussion on the podcast delved deep into the realm of automation in the restaurant industry. Boatwright was quick to highlight that robotics and automation at Chipotle aren't about replacing the invaluable human touch but optimizing operations to enhance customer experiences. One such example is the introduction of “Autocado”, a collaborative endeavor with Miso Robotics. This innovative system is designed to efficiently prepare guacamole, cutting preparation time by an impressive 50%. With time being a precious commodity in the fast-paced restaurant environment, such savings are crucial and substantial, especially when scaled across all Chipotle locations.

Pioneering Fast-Casual Dining

The hosts acknowledged Chipotle and its founder, Steve Ells, for their pioneering role in the fast-casual dining segment. With initial investments and support in real estate from McDonald's, Chipotle has never wavered from its commitment to quality and innovation, setting a benchmark in the industry for others to follow.

Looking Ahead

As the conversation flowed, Boatwright offered a glimpse into the future, anticipating hot topics in hospitality and technology likely to surface in the coming years. With a declining labor force due to demographic shifts and immigration challenges, the importance of robotics and automation in the restaurant industry is more significant than ever. Boatwright also expressed his advocacy for immigration reform to address labor shortages not only in the restaurant sector but across various industries.

Engaging & Enlightening Discussion

The podcast was not all serious and business-centric, as it lightened with a game of guessing popular ice cream shops and rapid-fire questions exploring Boatwright’s favorite foods, travel destinations, and sports teams. With a love for Mexican cuisine and a soft spot for New York and Florence, Italy, the conversation concluded on a delightful and relatable note for listeners.

Wrap-Up

For enthusiasts and professionals in the foodservice, restaurant, and hospitality industry, “Hospitality Hangout” with Scott Boatwright is a must-listen. Engage with the podcast for a hearty serving of insights, laughter, and a deep-dive into the future of the restaurant industry with a side of Chipotle's signature integrity and innovation.