Chipotle offering summer rewards program starting July 1

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

DENVER, CO (WCMH/AP) — Not only will patrons of Chipotle get a chance to earn a free burrito with the company’s new reward program, there’s also the chance to earn a catering party for 20 people.

Chipotle announced the rewards program called Chiptopia on its website.

The program, which runs from July through September, offers a free burrito (entrée) after a person purchases at least $6 worth of food four times (called Mild Status).

A second burrito (entrée) is earned after eight orders (Medium Status) and a third is earned after 11 orders (Hot Status).

If a person reaches Hot Status for all three months, they will earn catering from Chipotle for 20 people.

The Mexican food chain already has given away millions of burritos through coupons for entrees to try to fill up empty locations after an E. coli outbreak and norovirus cases last year sent sales plunging. In the first three months of this year, Chipotle’s sales at established locations were down about 30 percent.

The company, which has about 2,000 locations, said it will gauge feedback in its consideration of an ongoing rewards program.

The decision marks a reversal of sorts. Before the food scares last year, Chipotle Chief Financial Officer Jack Hartung had said that the company had been able to build loyalty “through more organic methods,” such as by educating people about how its food is raised. He said that since Chipotle already had such loyal customers, traditional loyalty programs did not make financial sense for the company.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. has said its most loyal customers visit 25 times or more a year, which would be about two times a month.

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