Chipotle needed 2016 to be a recovery year. It wasn’t.

Instead of rebuilding customer trust in 2016, Chipotle stumbled its way through lawsuits, a high profile arrest and poorly received burgers to a 14.8 percent year-over-year revenue decrease and stock values hitting a three-year low.

Chipotle on Broadway and 6th. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Chipotle on Broadway and 6th. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) chipotle; denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty
Chipotle on Broadway and 6th. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

After a rocky 2015, Chipotle executives and stockholders wanted — and needed — 2016 to be a year for recovery and rebuilding brand loyalty.

Instead, the company stumbled its way through lawsuits, a high profile arrest and poorly received burgers to a 14.8 percent year-over-year revenue decrease in the third quarter and stock values hitting a three-year low of $352.96 in November 2016.

After the food borne illness outbreaks of 2015, it didn’t seem like things could get much worse for Chipotle, a Denver-based company built on the aspirational “food with integrity” mission statement. The company’s stock value had slid about 43 percent to roughly $497 in the last quarter of 2015 with revenue slipping 6.8 percent year-over year.

Chipotle closed out Tuesday with stocks valued at $388.75 per share, which is actually a slight improvement from the November low.

So where did Chipotle go wrong? We’ve compiled a list of positive moves, as well as missteps, that have driven investor confidence into the ground throughout 2016.

Here are some of the highs and lows of the past year.

Chipotle launched Chiptopia, the company’s first ever loyalty program, to attract former customers. At the end of the three-month program, 85,000 people had earned a total of $20.4 million in free catering, Eater reported. Executives weren’t certain that giving away so much free food actually helped the company. (July)

Chipotle released its “A Love Story” marketing campaign with Pixar. Stocks briefly spiked in late July. (July)

Chipotle’s board of directors suspended chief marketing and development officer Mark Crumpacker after he was indicted as a customer in a New York City cocaine ring. Crumpacker completed voluntary rehab and returned to work in September. (July)

Chipotle lost a $550,000 lawsuit filed by a former employee who alleged she was fired from a D.C. location for being pregnant. (August)

Less than one month later, Chipotle got slapped with another lawsuit. Close to 10,000 current and former employees are alleging wage theft in a class-action law suit against the company. (August)

CEO Steve Ells appeared in an advertising campaign to publicize updates to the company’s food safety practices. (September)

Chipotle’s social media team got some heat for a sex, drugs and burritos themed tweet. (September)

Chipotle added Chorizo to the menu. (October)

Chipotle opened its first Tasty Made burger restaurant in Lancaster, Ohio. People didn’t love it. (October)

Executives revealed their 2017 business plan, which they said includes abandoning ShopHouse, adding dessert to the menu and going digital to cut back on labor. Less than a week later, stocks fell to a three-year low. (October)

Three Los Angeles men filed a lawsuit against Chipotle for allegedly misrepresenting the nutrition facts of its chorizo burrito. (November)

Co-CEO Monty Moran stepped down, once again handing Steve Ells full reign over the company. (December)

Multimedia business & healthcare reporter Chloe Aiello can be reached via email at caiello@denverite.com or twitter.com/chlobo_ilo.

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