"I think most people associate fast food with cheap, highly processed food that's not good for you, not any type of dining experience, more of just fuel. We at Chipotle don't think it has to be that way," said Ells. "We spend hours and hours prepping in the morning, chopping up onions and marinating meat. We're serving people very quickly so it's fast but it's not typical fast food."
Chipotle strives to elevate the image of its fast food by using sustainably raised ingredients prepared according to classic cooking methods and served in an interactive format. It seems to have worked.
"I don't usually go to fast food restaurants," a customer told ABC News. "Chipotle is different. I don't view Chipotle as a fast food restaurant."
Food is only part of the dining experience and Chipotle is trying to rachet up both restaurant atmosphere -- with walls decorated with Mayan themed artwork -- and customer service.
"To provide great service you need great people," said Ells. When he hired his team of 25,000 employees, he considered a strong work ethic and positive outlook over the need for work experience. "We hired for great personality, people who are infectiously enthusiastic about serving great Chipotle food and making people happy."