Who will be “The Chipotle of ___[each conceivable category of restaurant]___?”

I was cruising around and up popped an ad trying to get franchisees for Uncle Maddio’s Pizza and it had a big quote from Nation’s Restaurant News: “The Chipotle of Fast Casual Pizza!” Probably before publishing this I’ll grab a screen shot of it. Oh, heck, here. Here’s a screen shot:

Someday, maybe, a chain will surface that someone refers to as “The Uncle Maddio’s of Blah Blah Blah.”

Nice how quick we human speakers are prone to use a brand as a generic classification: “The Cadillac of Dehumidifiers.” “The Apple Computer of vacuum cleaners.”

Cool how quickly Chipotle has become iconic for any restaurant that has hormone-free free-range chicken, gluten-free options, something for vegans and good taste in design.

But there’s more to the descriptor than literal interpretation. It’s a way of praising the restaurant for its spirit—an inferred stick-to-your-belief approach as exemplified by fill-in-the-blank. Chipotle has cast themselves as the good guys, who also happen to be pretty hip.

Paul Barron, author of a book called The Chipotle Effect, has—well, I counted, and it’s way over seven tons of opinions about this. But here’s basically what he thinks is the difference between a traditional restaurant concept, and one worthy of the Chipotle comparison:

Traditionally, the restaurant business has been built on food, when in my opinion the shift to “food as a lifestyle” is the new mantra. This means you must create an overall experience, one that not only impacts the guest while in the restaurant but also when they are outside the four walls, in ways that will create new lifestyle expectations: better health, better taste, better quality, better lifestyle.”

It may be that people are throwing it around too freely. But for now, I’m way more apt to want to try Uncle Maddio’s than I would have before that Chipotle laurel wreath was stuck on them by NRN.

It better be true, though. I’ll respond to the little boy’s wolf alarm two or three times, but I’ll stop if it turns out to be just words.

Let’s see what this Uncle Maddio guy (who was a founder of Moe’s, probably at some point called “The Chipotle of Southwestern Restaurants That Aren’t Chipotle”) has to say for himself: