Want to catch a glimpse of Obama? Start hanging out at fast-food joints

President Obama has made a habit in recent weeks of breaking "out of the cage" of the White House. And Twitter loves it. Here are some of the reactions. (Tom LeGro and Natalie Jennings/The Washington Post)

If you want to catch a glimpse of President Obama, start hanging out at a Shake Shack. Or a Starbucks. Or a Chipotle.

Obama's numerous forays outside the White House over the past month or so have been well documented. "The bear is loose!" he twice exclaimed after he escaped the cage that is the White House, once for a walk to a bill signing and again when he strolled over to a Starbucks near the White House.

The bear must have been in the mood for some guacamole Monday, because Obama again found himself inside a fast-food joint. This time it was a Chipotle in Northwest Washington.

Obama ate with working parents who were attending the White House Summit on Working Families. He addressed the summit after lunch.

"I just walked over to Chipotles for lunch," Obama said. "It had been a while since I had the burrito bowl, and it was good.” Yes, he did call it Chipotles!

It's not the first time he has taken a group of people tied to a White House initiative out for lunch, albeit one that isn't exactly in line with the administration's emphasis on healthy eating. In May, Obama took four employees on a Washington construction project out for lunch at Shake Shack. Obama, as we all know, has a soft spot in his heart and stomach for burgers.


President Obama walks to lunch at Chipotle restaurant with, from left, Shirley Young, Lisa Rumain, Shelby Ramirez and Roger Trombley before he attends the White House Summit on Working Families in Washington. (Larry Downing/Reuters)

Three of the bigger chains he's picked — Shake Shack, Starbucks and Chipotle — also all employ practices that Obama can, or has, touted as good for business. If you're the president, there's more to grabbing a burrito than just grabbing a burrito.

At Shake Shack, Obama said he chose the restaurant because "it has great burgers and pays its employees more than 10 bucks an hour." Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz expressed his support for an increase in the minimum wage — a signature Obama proposal — in March. Obama may have been rewarding those who helped him out — according to a 2008 market research study, people who frequented Starbucks were more likely to vote for Obama.

And then there's Chipotle. The chain has invested in sustainability and the environment and created a management structure that promotes from within, allowing low-level employees to rise through the ranks.

Obama was heard saying in the restaurant that when companies treat employees right, "businesses benefit and the economy benefits."

Katie Zezima is a national political correspondent covering the 2016 presidential election. She previously served as a White House correspondent for The Post.

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