Why You Won't Find Chipotle In Hawaii Or Alaska

One of the joys of visiting a state like Hawaii or Alaska is enjoying the local cuisine, like kalua pork in Hawaii and fresh seafood in Alaska. Sometimes, when you're traveling, though (or if you live in one of these states), convenience is a must. You'll find chain and fast-food restaurants in both Hawaii and Alaska. McDonald's, Starbucks, and Domino's Pizza all have locations in these states, but there is one restaurant that you'll find is notably missing: Chipotle (though the jury is still out on whether Chipotle is considered fast food or not). The chain has locations in all other states as well as in Washington, D.C., and even in Canada and Europe. Why, then, are two states lacking the delicious Mexican restaurant? While the answer isn't entirely clear, it likely has to do with ingredients and cost.


Many chain restaurants rely on pre-made and frozen ingredients to make their food, but Chipotle is different. Chipotle explains on its website that it makes food fresh daily, and doesn't rely on freezers or can openers. Some of the 53 fresh ingredients Chipotle uses include lettuce, beef, avocado, and baby spinach. It's not hard to imagine how difficult and costly it would be to regularly ship these ingredients to the more remote locations of Hawaii and Alaska.

Chipotle would face financial challenges in Hawaii and Alaska

When compared to the contiguous United States, Alaska and Hawaii are both pretty isolated. It can be rather costly to regularly ship fresh products as far north as Alaska and across the ocean to Hawaii from distribution centers that are landlocked. Another compounding factor is the lower population of Alaska and Hawaii. When you take an expensive distribution process and combine it with a small number of customers, it just doesn't make financial sense for the company to venture into these regions. Alaska has the lowest population density of all U.S. states, and Hawaii has one of the lowest total population counts.


Other chains have found ways to make things work in these remote locations. Chick-fil-A, for example, expanded operations to Hawaii. It's not likely you'll see any Chipotle locations open in Hawaii or Alaska any time soon, however. In 2018, Chipotle's communications director told Pacific Business News that there are no current plans to open a restaurant in Hawaii. Though there is even a Facebook page dedicated to convincing Chipotle to open a location in Anchorage, Alaska, there are no signs that the company plans to venture that far north, either.