Chipotle Shuts The Door On Its Fast-Casual Pizza Chain Pizzeria Locale

Chipotle, evangelist of the gargantuan Mission-style burrito and innovator of assembly-line style service in regards to Mexican-American cuisine, has announced its departure from the world of pizza. All locations of the Neapolitan-style mini-chain Pizzeria Locale, of which there are five in the Denver, Colorado area, will close on Monday, July 10.

This comes a decade after Chipotle stepped in to finance the expansion of Pizzeria Locale, a concept created in Boulder, Colorado in 2011 by celebrated restaurateurs Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson. With aspirations to be to pizza what Chipotle has been to Mexican-American cuisine, Pizzeria Locale first expanded to Denver before opening outposts in Kansas City, Missouri and Cincinnati, Ohio, though those locations closed in 2018. The original Boulder location of Pizzeria Locale, adjacent to Stuckey and Mackinnon-Patterson's fine-dining Italian restaurant Frasca Food and Wine, was rebranded Pizzeria Alberico in 2023 and remains open.

A representative of Chipotle toldĀ Westword about the decision to "dissolve the company," stating further that impacted employees have been given opportunities to transfer their jobs to area Chipotle stores.

A secret partnership

Pizzeria Locale used a service model strikingly similar to that of Chipotle. Whereas most conventional fast-service pizza restaurants offer an array of already-cooked slices, Pizzeria Locale made customers' pies from scratch. The personal pizzas were topped by employees behind the counter and then fired in rotating gas-infrared hybrid ovens for under two minutes.

Chipotle's involvement with Pizzeria Locale was kept under wraps when the chain expanded to Denver in 2013, opening in a strip mall near a location of the burrito maker. Only 20 individuals at the combined companies knew of the partnership and were kept quiet by non-disclosure agreements, though many were suspicious given the public friendship of Stuckey, Mackinnon-Patterson, and Chipotle founder Steve Ells, who launched his empire in Denver in 1993.

Ells, a longtime fan of Frasca and the restaurateurs' approach, was impressed by the original Pizzeria Locale and had been searching for a partnership opportunity with Stuckey and Mackinnon-Patterson. They, in turn, were impressed by the elevated dedication Chipotle had for quality ingredients and cooking compared to other fast-casual eateries. Still, the partnership was kept quiet so as to avoid cross-contamination of the brands.

Stuckey and Mackinnon-Patterson have not, according to Chipotle, been involved with Pizzeria Locale's operations for the past year, but Pizzeria Alberico continues to offer items that once graced their chain's menu.