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Piada vs. Chipotle

Chipotle’s Genesis

Steve Ells opened the first Chipotle Mexican Grill in 1993, near the University of Colorado campus in Denver, using a loan from his dad. It turned out to be a hit, and soon more Chipotles were being opened all over Colorado. In 1999, the first Chipotles were opened outside of Colorado, one in Minneapolis and the other in Columbus. Today, over a thousand Chipotle restaurants have opened around the world, which collectively make almost $200 million annually. 

Chipotle is known for its quick service and fresh ingredients. In a matter of seconds, you can watch your meal assembled right in front of you, and there is a dizzying array of toppings to choose from. In fact, there are over 62,000 combinations for a burrito, and they’re all of the highest quality. Chipotle prides itself on serving natural, free range, antibiotic-free meat and local produce. In fact, Chipotle serves more naturally raised meat than any other restaurant in the United States. Not only is Chipotle food delicious, but you can feel good about eating it, too.

The Formation of Piada

Piada is an entirely local phenomenon, with locations in Bexley, Gahanna, and Upper Arlington. Chris Doody opened the first Piada in the summer of 2010. With a leader like Doody, Piada seems primed for success. Doody’s previous restaurant pursuits include the creation of both the Brio and Bravo Italian chains in Columbus. Piada is very similar to Chipotle. As it happened, Doody based his model of how Piada would operate off of Chipotle. The piada itself, a type of Italian flatbread stuffed with various meats and vegetables, is essentially an Italian burrito. The restaurants’ eating and serving areas have a similar layout to Chipotle, and an equally simple menu with a myriad of additional toppings to add at no extra charge. Piada is rapidly expanding, planning to open another 3 locations around Columbus within a year. It seems that fast-casual Italian fare has finally found its mark.

At Chipotle, Clarissa ordered a chicken burrito bowl, filled with fresh, steaming rice and smoky, succulent chicken, topped with crisp lettuce, a dab of rich sour cream, spicy corn and salsa and a sprinkling of grated cheese. I ordered a vegetarian burrito bowl, with juicy black beans, perfectly sautéed bell-peppers and all the ingredients from Clarissaís bowl (minus the chicken). Clarissa had a soft drink and also added tortilla chips to share. As we greedily dug in to our fresh meals, the zesty combination of sweet and spicy overpowered our senses. The meal was incredibly filling, even hard to finish, and left our cravings satisfied for a decent price.

That evening, after working off our Chipotle meals, we drove to Piada for dinner. Clarissa ordered a pasta bowl with sizzling noodles and crispy chicken, complemented with creamy Alfredo sauce, roasted zucchini, and parmesan cheese. She ordered a soft drink and a pepperoni piada stick on the side. I ordered a pasta bowl as well, with noodles and delicious grilled vegetables, topped with fresh spinach leaves, basil pesto, luscious tomatoes, and feta cheese. I quite enjoyed the pasta bowl, for the grilled vegetables were cooked to a crisp and gave a spicy, extra flavor to the Alfredo sauce, as did the basil pesto. Clarissa also enjoyed her pasta bowl but found it had more noodles than she wanted and enjoyed her piada stick more. But we both found the pasta bowl to be a little overwhelming in its amount, similar to Chipotle’s servings, so were unable to finish. Yet for a similarly-sized meal, Piada tends to be a few dollars more expensive than Chipotle.

Piada suffices as a refreshing change from the Chipotle meals students eat so often. Its style of serving Italian food is almost identical to Chipotleís style of serving Mexican cuisine, and, thus, operates at the same high-speed for people on-the-go. The variety of vegetable, meat, and topping options provides for limitless opportunities when it comes pasta bowls and piadas.

We predict in the long run, the most favored choice among Academy students will be Chipotle. Though Piada is a tasty alternative to too much Mexican for a week, it will not satisfy a teenager who is having that “Chipotle crave,”a feeling we have not yet felt for Piada.

Written by Andy Li'13, Clarissa Leickly'12, and  Sandhya Ramaswamy'12. Photos by Elliot Nick'14


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