Chipotle to open Asian restaurant this summer

Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:07pm EDT

* First 'ShopHouse' restaurant to open in Washington, DC

* Concept inspired by cuisine of Southeast Asia

* Chipotle shares up 2.8 percent

LOS ANGELES, April 12 (Reuters) - Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG.N) plans to open its first Asian concept restaurant in Washington, D.C., this summer, it said on Tuesday.

The Denver company, one of the best-performing U.S. restaurant chains, said the new ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen brand was inspired by traditional shophouses in Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Shophouses are multilevel buildings that house families in upper floors and restaurants or markets on the ground floor.

ShopHouse will offer sustainably raised meats, vegetables and other ingredients, a recipe that has won Chipotle Mexican Grill a loyal following.

Still, the popular restaurant operator faces some challenges. It cannot lock in prices for its naturally raised meats and other premium ingredients, so its food costs are heading up. Analysts and investors also are closely monitoring the impact of U.S. immigration audits on its labor costs. [ID:nN01277276]

Chipotle shares, which made their debut at $22 in January 2006, were up 2.8 percent at $275.88 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Lisa Baertlein; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)