Chipotle to Open its First Digital-Only Restaurant

This article was written by Julie Littman with Restaurant Dive.

This isn’t likely to be the only new kitchen prototype Chipotle develops. Its new Cultivate Center, a 22,000-square-foot facility near Chipotle’s Irvine, California, headquarters will be used to test prototypes and recipes, according to the press release. The chain will also use the space to film commercials and provide restaurant training. The center opened during the fall.

Within this facility, its Center of Excellence for Design and Construction houses a fully equipped lab, metal cutting and woodworking machinery to build and test prototypes before they are rolled out in restaurants. 

Chipotle’s digital business is growing seemingly exponentially and on track to surpass $2.5 billion this year. To support this growth, it’s also planning to have a bulk of its future restaurants include Chipotlanes, where customers pre-order online and use the drive-thru to collect their orders. By the end of the third quarter, the company had 128 Chipotlanes and is on its way to reach between 150 and 165 Chipotlanes this year. 

Chipotle has already been testing restaurants with pickup windows that would work in multiple environments. The windows function in a similar way to Chipotlanes, allowing customers to order ahead and pick up their orders without entering the store. The company is also considering smaller restaurants with Chipotlanes that have a tiny dining room or no dining room, Chipotle CFO Jack Hartung said. These units could be located in between two traditional locations and be used to reach more customers that might not be close enough to frequent the large restaurants, he said…

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