Chipotle lovers — brace yourselves for this announcement.
All restaurants belonging to the casual dining Mexican food chain will be shut down across the U.S. for a short period of time next month.
Chipotle will be closing all of its restaurant locations on Feb. 8, 2016 for several hours in order to hold meetings regarding a series of health issues linked to its stores. Hundreds of customers have reported food-related illness after dining at various Chipotle locations since last year. The company has yet to resolve the issue, reports the Chicago Tribune.
According to Chris Arnold, the company’s spokesman, the meeting next month will cover health issues and allow staff members to ask questions. He wrote in an email to employees:
“We want to thank our teams for all of their hard work, to discuss some of the changes we are making to enhance food safety, to talk about the restaurant’s role in all of that and to answer questions from employees.”
The food poisoning outbreak that began last year included norovirus, E.coli and salmonella. By December, it had spread to over eight states including Oregon, Washington, California, Kansas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Massachusetts and Minnesota.
The company’s stock price plummeted nearly 40% and sales dramatically decreased by 30%. At least nine lawsuits have been filed against the restaurant chainl with more coming in.
Outbreaks began in July in Seattle when health officials linked five illnesses to one location. A food safety litigator from Seattle, Bill Marler, said he has been flooded with people filing suits against Chipotle. He told the Tribune:
“I represent a total of 75 people, but I haven’t filed all their lawsuits yet.”