This executive is ditching Starbucks to join Chipotle

October 12, 2015, 7:50 PM UTC
Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg/Getty Images

Chipotle has added a new executive position to the restaurant chain’s ranks, the chief information officer, and has hired away Starbucks’ CIO to take on the job.

The fast-casual restaurant chain said Curt Garner, who has worked for Starbucks’ (SBUX) information technology group for the past 18 years, will become Chipotle’s (CMG) CIO beginning Nov. 23. In his new role, Garner will report to Chipotle Chief Financial Officer Jack Hartung. Garner’s move comes after Starbucks hired Adobe (ADBE) CIO Gerri Martin-Flickinger as its new chief technology officer.

The use of technology has become an increasingly important component of how restaurant chains can compete for business today. Online ordering options via mobile apps are a way that chains such as Starbucks have sought to differentiate themselves. Delivery services are also being widely tested. Starbucks is particularly ahead of many when it comes to the company’s mobile payments, which accounted for 20% of the coffee chain’s U.S. business as of this summer. The progress Starbucks has made on the tech side of the business likely caught Chipotle’s attention.

“We are changing the way people think about and eat fast food,” said Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle in a statement. “As we look for ways to create efficiencies in our restaurants and improve the customer experience through the strategic use of technology, Curt’s experience and expertise make him an ideal and welcome addition to our management team.”

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