Chipotle to close all restaurants Feb. 8 for part of the day

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. will close all of its U.S. stores for part of the day Feb. 8 while its employees attend a national team meeting, a company spokesman said Friday.

The meeting will discuss food-safety changes, allow employees to ask questions and thank them for their "hard work during this difficult time," Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said in an email.

Stores will open at 3 p.m. local time that day, he said. As of September, Chipotle has 1,906 restaurants worldwide, 1,895 of which are in the U.S.

The Denver-based burrito chain has struggled to attract customers after E. coli outbreaks were linked to the company's restaurants. Chipotle's December sales were down 30%, according to a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In November, Chipotle temporarily closed 43 restaurants in Washington and Oregon after 22 E. coli cases were linked to its eateries. Those locations have since reopened.

A month later, 141 Boston College students were reported to have contracted norovirus after eating at a Chipotle in Brighton, Mass. The chain specifically mentioned this incident in an SEC filing last week, saying that it "worsened the adverse financial and operating impacts" from the E. coli outbreaks.

Chipotle also said it was served with a federal grand jury subpoena in early December in connection with a criminal investigation being conducted by the U.S. attorney's office for the Central District of California in conjunction with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Office of Criminal Investigations.

The company said it was asked to produce a "broad range of documents" related to a norovirus outbreak in August at a Simi Valley Chipotle restaurant. Chipotle has said it will fully cooperate in the investigation.

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