* 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 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.
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)