Nearly three years ago, Pizzeria Locale came to the Kansas City market with its first location outside its home state of Colorado.
The founders had a partnership with Colorado-based Chipotle, which also had opened its first location outside the state in the Kansas City area when it came to Overland Park in 1998.
But on Wednesday, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. said that it will shutter up to 65 underperforming restaurants, including the three area Pizzeria Locales and two in Cincinnati.
The area Pizzeria Locale locations — in Corbin Park at 6455 W. 135th St., in Oak Park Mall at 11875 W. 95th St. and at 505 W. 75th St. — closed Wednesday. The operations offered specialty pizzas, baked to order in a few minutes in a custom-designed, high-temperature oven.
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About half of the other restaurants on the list will close in the next 30 days, and the rest will close over the next several quarters.
The news comes as at least two new area Chipotle locations are in the works — one in the State Line Shopping Center at 103rd and State Line Road scheduled to open late this year, and another at 8301 W. 151st St. in Overland Park slated for an August opening.
Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol was formerly chief of Yum Brands Inc.'s Taco Bell and spearheaded the popular "Doritos Locos Tacos" and $1 nacho fries prior to joining Chipotle in March. Earlier this month, the company announced it is testing five new items, including quesadillas and nachos.
Chipotle also said it would launch a customer loyalty program in 2019 and is exploring offering $2 tacos with a drink as part of a proposed "happy hour."
The closing announcement comes as the troubled burrito chain seeks to recover after a rash of food safety lapses.
After outbreaks of E. coli, salmonella and norovirus were linked to its restaurants in 2015, the company’s share price plummeted as diners retreated and rival chains grew their numbers through wider offerings and clever promotions.
While Chipotle made its name as a pioneer of “real” ingredients, critics of the fast-casual chain have complained that its menu offerings have grown stale.
Reuters contributed to this story.