Chipotle adds steak dish carne asada in rare addition to menu

(Reuters) - Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc <CMG.N> said on Tuesday it would add a new steak dish to its menu nationwide for the first time in three years, as the Mexican food chain looks to drive sales in a crowded U.S restaurant market.

Carne asada, a dish of thin steak slices seasoned with signature spices, will be offered on the menu for a limited period of time. It was piloted in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Fresno, California, Chipotle said.

"It performed incredibly well in the test markets," said Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer of Chipotle.

Chipotle has been working to rebuild its image under Chief Executive Officer Brian Niccol after a series of food safety lapses hit the company's reputation in 2015. It has been testing new menu items in addition to other initiatives such as new ad campaigns and loyalty program to boost its turnaround.

In July, Niccol teased the national rollout of new additions to the menu including carne asada, quesadillas, desserts and nachos.

Last year, Chipotle added condiment queso cheese to its menu, but was initially met with bad reviews from some Twitter users calling it a "crime against cheese", forcing the company to tweak the recipe.

The latest rollout begins on Tuesday for Chipotle Rewards loyalty program members through its app and would be made available to all customers on Sept. 19, the restaurant chain said.

In January, the company launched a new line of "lifestyle bowls", including paleo and keto salads for online customers.

Shares of Chipotle, which have risen 85% so far this year and outperformed the broader S&P 500 Restaurant index's about 27% gain year-to-date, were up about 3% at $826.09.


(Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal and Soundarya J in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)