FILE PHOTO: The logo of Chipotle Mexican Grill is seen at the Chipotle Next Kitchen in Manhattan, New York, U.S., June 28, 2018.  REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

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Chipotle joined other fast food brands investing in drive-thru technology and online ordering with Chipotlanes. I visited one in Canandaigua, New York to document the experience.

By early 2019, Chipotle had 10 US Chipotlanes, and executives told Insider that they planned to open dozens more, while also investing in digital ordering. Chipotle’s digital sales exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic, making up more than half of sales in 2020. Now, the brand is investing in building more online-order only “Chipotlanes” and opening new locations. CEO Brian Niccol said in an earnings call that Chipotle plans to more than double its locations.

Read more: Shake Shack, Panera, and Chipotle open drive-thrus to keep up with fast-food rivals like McDonald’s and Taco Bell

The expansion comes as fast-food and fast-casual brands across the country are optimizing drive-thrus. Drive-thru orders have grown across the fast-food industry since the pandemic closed many dining rooms. McDonald’s, already a drive-thru heavy hitter with 25,000 worldwide, says that 70% of sales in top markets are drive-thru orders. Even salad chain Sweetgreen is jumping on the trend.

Chipotle works on an assembly line type model, where customers move down the line of ingredients to choose what they want in a burrito or bowl. Chipotle locations also run a second assembly line behind the scenes dubbed the “digital make line” in 2019. That section is focused on making mobile and delivery orders, the kind that would make up business at a Chipotlane. With digital sales exploding, Chipotle announced plans to hire 10,000 new employees to handle digital sales this summer.

Here’s what it’s like to order from a Chipotlane. 

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Downloading the Chipotle app is necessary for all mobile orders. When the app is open, it shows nearby Chipotle locations, and specifically marks Chipotlane locations.

Select a particular restaurant to get the exact address, phone number, and hours. From there, you can choose to order from that location or favorite it.

From there, the entire menu is on the app. I actually prefer digital ordering at Chipotle in particular because the line doesn’t get held up by one person looking at the options.

It’s also easy to duplicate orders and add on sides like chips and guac before checkout.

You can choose to either pickup in the drive-thru or inside when you place your order.

You also choose a pickup time so your food is ready when you get there.

Pay with Apple Pay or another credit card by entering information into the app.

The actual Chipotle, which opened in December, was not very busy. It was in a strip mall-like plaza with a few other stores and an urgent care center.

The doors advertised contactless pickup and delivery, although you could also go inside and order at the counter.

For online orderers who opted not to use …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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