Chipotle increases menu prices

You might notice some unwelcome changes coming to Chipotle's menu—price hikes.

The Mexican fast food restaurant plans to increase prices over the next few weeks for the first time in three years. The price increases are necessary to help offset a variety of factors, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The price hikes will begin in the east and spread throughout the country.

Chipotle had previously said price increases were likely for the second half of 2011, but rising food costs and the cost of government probes into the company's immigrant hiring caused increased pressure to pass the cost onto the consumer.

Chipotle also had spent higher-than-normal amounts on marketing for its 18th anniversary, which contributed to a cut in profit margins.

The Wall Street Journal reported that "Chipotle's restaurant-level operating margin fell to 25.2% from 26.1% despite its 12% increase in same-restaurant sales."

The increase in menu prices is not expected to impact customer frequency.

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