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One MNB reader threw one right down the center of the plate yesterday ... but not only did I not swing at it, but I didn't even see it. But a couple of MNB readers did, so I want to circle back so an important point can be made.

The original reader was letting me know that while I tend to be anti-Chipotle, a lot of people aren't. And part of his email read as follows:

At the grocery store that I manage, we have quarterly lunches where we let our staff pick the meal. We will put up 3-4 options and employees will vote. Recently, some of our younger staff asked if we could ever have Chipotle. I was hesitant as I knew their food safety issues were well documented and there might be a large number of our staff that would share these concerns. Our store management team discussed this, and while some of us were uncomfortable, we decided to put it as an option. At the next luncheon, the choices were Jimmy John's, Old Chicago pizza, Big Bowl Chinese Express and Chipotle. Chipotle won hands down. It wasn't even close. They catered the meal and it was excellent. The staff loved it and we got more compliments on this than any other meal we have had. Now the staff are asking if we can have it again.

MNB reader Phil Censky wrote:

I found the comment illuminating. He’s a manager of a grocery store that holds monthly lunches for its employees and the staff picks the meal. On one hand, I think it’s excellent leadership to engage employees in this way. On the other hand, it’s disappointing the organization doesn’t find a way to turn those lunches into an occasion to highlight or improve upon its own catering chops. Perhaps opening up dialog about what makes Chipotle catering so popular among the staff, and how they can improve its prepared food and deli offerings. I’d be shocked, for example, if Jimmy John’s could hold a candle to a sandwich made by the deli at a Wegman’s. I understand that it may not be feasible at the individual store level, but for the HQ execs, hearing about stores catering in Chipotle should be an eye opener.

Here's how another MNB reader responded:

And to think you usually criticize grocery retailers from selling restaurant gift cards.

Wow.  The deli at that grocery store must be really bad!

I hope they purchase Gift Cards at their own grocery store to pay for these lunches.  At least they'd make a little profit on those.

They are absolutely right, I think. If employees would rather go to Chipotle than eat at the store, then they ought to be rethinking the food they're serving.

I should've written that yesterday. But I'm glad some MNB readers had my back.
KC's View: