MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A major restaurant chain is closing its stores all over the country.

Chipotle is shutting down, but it is just temporary. The company announced it will close all of its restaurants on Feb. 8 for a few hours.

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The stores will be holding an all-staff meeting on food safety in light of recent E. coli outbreaks. It is a move many customers find necessary to win back their appetites.

Travis Smith used to make regular trips to Chipotle.

“Chipotle was one of my family’s favorites,” Smith said.

He says the restaurant’s emphasis on real ingredients was a reason his family were regular customers.

“We’ve always viewed it as the healthy alternative to many of the other places,” he said. “They’ve taken a back seat.”

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

The recent E. coli outbreaks plaguing the chain — whose slogan is “Food With Integrity” — have been bugging even some loyal customers.

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That is why Chipotle announced the food-safety training day for the company’s roughly 60,000 employees.

Sandy Rathod is a marketing professor at the University of St. Thomas. She says shutting down the Mexican grill chain nationwide, even for a few hours, makes a statement.

“Chipotle has been able to kind of hobble along for quite some time without really addressing the major issue, and now they’re going to,” Rathod said. “They could do it outside business hours, right? But they’re doing it during their prime time because they want people to pay attention.”

Chipotle’s founder said the move will help win back customers, but only time will tell if the new safety measures will be effective, and if customers will bite.

“We have a lot of consumers. I see people in there now, so it’s hard to tell,” Smith said.

Rathod says the brief shutdown is a wise move on Chipotle’s part.

The company’s troubles have affected sales; business is down more than 30 percent.

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The E. coli outbreaks on the east coast also prompted a federal investigation.

Kate Raddatz