Chipotle reports 16% drop in March same-store sales

April 21 (Reuters) - Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc on Tuesday reported a 16% fall in March same-store sales, as the coronavirus pandemic forced the company to keep its restaurants closed to diners.

The company also withdrew its forecast of delivering mid-single digit percentage growth in comparable restaurant sales this year.

Chipotle’s same-store sales rose 3.3% in the first quarter ended March 31, helped by strong demand and higher menu prices in the early part of the year, as well surging online orders.

Separately, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Tuesday Chipotle would pay $25 million to resolve criminal charges related to the company’s involvement in foodborne illness outbreaks that sickened hundreds of people between 2015 and 2018. (Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)