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Chipotle Mexican Grill to close Denver headquarters, relocate staff to California and Ohio

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Posted at 11:37 AM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-23 16:13:35-04

DENVER – Chipotle Mexican Grill will close its Denver headquarters and move to California later this year after more than 20 years in the Mile High City.

The company said in a news release the headquarters will move to Newport Beach, Calif. and other functions within the Denver office will move to the company’s existing office in Columbus, Ohio.

The company said the moves will affect around 400 employees in Denver and New York in the fourth quarter of 2018 and said some people would be offered relocation and retention packages.

The Newport Beach location will serve as the company’s main headquarters, and support functions will move to Columbus. After the moves, the Denver and New York offices will be closed, the company said.

"We'll always be proud of our Denver roots where we opened our first restaurant 25 years ago. The consolidation of offices and the move to California will help us drive sustainable growth while continuing to position us well in the competition for top talent," said Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol.

The news comes as a surprise to some in Denver, as the company announced in December it was moving its headquarters to a new office tower downtown that was still under construction.

It signed a 15-year lease for five floors of a 40-story skyscraper located in Denver. The status of the lease is currently unclear, though the building held its grand opening in recent months.

The CEO at the time, Steve Ells, said at the time: “Our roots are here, and this contemporary, collaborative and modern space will position us to look ahead to the next 25 years.”

Niccol, who was formerly the CEO of Taco Bell, replaced Ells in early March. In the company's Q1 earnings call that happened in April, Niccol hinted at a "special call" in which he would unveil more details about the company's upcoming strategy, and a news release from the company issued Wednesday said more information would be released about the moves in a special investor call scheduled for June 27.

Chipotle said in December there were about 450 employees working for the company. Restaurant Business Online ranks Chipotle as the nation's 16th-largest restaurant chain in terms of sales.