Chipotle Goes (Southeast) Asian with ShopHouse

The fast-casual chain that taught millions of Americans how to say "chee-poat-lay" is bringing its marketing savvy to another foreign cuisine. Chipotle is set to launch ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen, with the first location opening in Washington D.C.

The healthy-ish chain will feature an array of flavors inspired by Thai, Malaysian and Vietnamese cooking. Chipotle founder and CEO Steve Ells hopes the broad southeast Asian concept will help ShopHouse gain traction among consumers and, according to NRN, "open up real estate opportunities in locations... where there might be lease restrictions because of an existing Chinese or Japanese concept."

We're wondering: Does ShopHouse present a conflict-of-interest for Steve Ells, who's also a judge on turgid ABC reality show America's Next Great Restaurant? Now entering its 7th week, the show has weeded thousands of potential fast-casual restaurateurs down to five finalists with five very different concepts: meatballs, soul food, healthy Asian, Indian and southern.

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