World Jan 21, 2016 07:53 PM EST

Freshii to Help Consumers Through 'These Dark Hours' as Chipotle Closes Stores Nationwide for Employee Meeting

By Staff Writer

Because of the frequent outbreaks that have been happening to the restaurant chain, Chipotle will be closing all its stores on February 8 for a nationwide employee meeting. While the chain is closed, rival Freshii will encourage customers to come to their stores with a 50% discount.

In a press release, Freshii jabbed at Chipotle, saying that the discount was "to help American consumers through these dark hours." Matthew Corrin, Freshii founder and CEO spoke more about the discount, reported Nation's Restaurant News.

"Like millions of other people, we at Freshii are big fans of Chipotle. We figured the least we would do was look after their customers while Chipotle paused to recalibrate. If a few Chipotle customers fall in love with a Freshii menu item, we hope they'll come back to both stores more often."

The meeting will last only a few hours. The Chipotle officials, through a live satellite feed, will thank the chain's 60,000 employees for their hard work in dealing with the recent illnesses affecting the company. They will also discuss the new food safety protocol created in response to these outbreaks and address any employee questions and concerns.

Along with the new processing and testing measures for their ingredients, the company will also be offering paid sick leave. This is to help encourage employees to not come in when ill.

The meeting was created during an investor conference in Florida. There are also plans for a new marketing campaign, to start in February, to help address the recent negative attention the company has been getting and encourage customers to come back.

Among the incentives for customers, Advertising Age reported that Chipotle will offer a $50 discount to the first 1,500 customers for catering orders or for 20 or more"Burritos by the Box" orders on February 7. Tied to the Super Bowl, the company will also offer a limited-edition gift from Tabasco.

Since the reports of the food-borne illnesses, the company has reported 30% in stores that had been opened for less than a year. The company has not announced the cause of the illnesses, but is planning to do so at the nationwide meeting.

Steve Ells, CEO and found of Chipotle, felt positive about the upcoming changes, reported USA Today. "We're going to let all of our folks know about how this happened, and, in detail, all the steps that we're taking to ensure that it won't happen again. I'm confident we'll recover from this and win back our customers."

The company has been hit by multiple health incidents in the past year, including norovirus affecting more than 120 Boston College students and cases of E. coli being found in location across nine states. Chipotle is also under investigation by the US Attorney's Office and the FDA over the norovirus occurrence in Simi Valley, California in August.

Chipotle is a Denver-based company coming to prominence through their campaigns based on bringing customers fresh food and ingredients. With Freshii trying to use the chain's misfortunes to their benefit, it will be an interesting time for the company to see how much negativity the public has about the safety of their food. 

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