A while back, the team at ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen started to get some odd requests: Georgetown students would bring in their own tortillas to the Chipotle spinoff, and ask the staff to wrap their food in them.
“We didn’t even have foil or anything, so we’d just be like… OK. We’re in the business of pleasing people,” says Tim Wildin, Chipotle’s director of concept development.
The BYOT phenomenon wasn’t just limited to DC. Another group of college kids started doing the same thing at the Santa Monica location, Wildin says. Meanwhile, at the outpost in Union Station, ShopHouse employees were borrowing tortillas from the neighboring Chipotle to make their own wraps with chicken satay, grilled steak laab, or pork and chicken meatballs.
Eventually, Wildin tried the menu hack, and decided it was actually pretty good. So a few weeks ago, ShopHouse began officially offering burritos, er, wraps at its original Dupont Circle location. The new menu item is just a trial run for now, but depending on how it sells–and whether it causes customers to return more frequently–it could eventually roll out to other shops.
Right now, ShopHouse is using the exact same tortillas as Chipotle, but Wildin says they’re also experimenting with a roti wrap if the dish proves popular. “In my mind, it’s kind of like if a tortilla and a croissant had a baby,” he says of the roti.
This is not the first time ShopHouse has offered something beyond bowls. When it first opened in 2011, the eatery served banh mi. But Wildin says he wasn’t happy with the bread—one of the few things not made in-house—and the clumsiness of the sandwich assembly. Eventually, it got the axe.
The fast-casual restaurant also recently added crispy spring rolls with a sweet chili sauce to its menu across locations.
“It has really become quite a favorite,” Wildin says. “The wrap thing has yet to be seen.”
CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, this story initially stated that employees at a ShopHouse in New York’s Union Square were making their own wraps. In fact, it was the Union Station location in DC. There is no ShopHouse in Union Square.