Chipotle / USA

Chipotle opens digital restaurant

When collecting their order, customers can take a look at the Chipotle kitchen.
When collecting their order, customers can take a look at the Chipotle kitchen.

The US Tex-Mex chain Chipotle has opened a restaurant where ordering, pickup and payment can only be done digitally. The new prototype is intended to provide additional flexibility in the search for locations and also open up potential in urban areas that do not offer space for full-size restaurants.

The Chipotle Digital Kitchen has neither a dining room nor a front service line. Guests must order in advance via the company's website, the Chipotle app or delivery partners. Orders are then picked up in a lobby, from where customers can take a look behind a large glass pane into the kitchen. This is also how the typical sounds and smells of a traditional Chipotle restaurant are brought to the "digital" customer. For delivery services there is a separate entrance with its own pick-up area.

"The Digital Kitchen incorporates innovative features that will complement our rapidly growing digital business, while delivering a convenient and frictionless experience for our guests," said Curt Garner, Chief Technology Officer of Chipotle. "With digital sales tripling year over year last quarter, consumers are demanding more digital access than ever before so we're constantly exploring new ways to enhance the experience for our guests."

While the pilot site in Highland Falls, New York, covers just under 280 square meters, future Digital Kitchens will only require 110 to 140 square meters. Additional locations are planned to follow in 2021 and 2022 in proven markets with a large number of successful Chipotle restaurants, Global Chief Development Officer Tabassum Zalotrawala told Restaurant Business. The chain is also looking into other formats. For example, service windows are also being tested at some locations.

About Chipotle
Founded in Denver, Colorado, in 1993, Chipotle Mexican Grill today (as of the end of September 2020) has over 2,700 restaurants and more than 94,000 employees in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. All units are operated independently. According to the Technomic Top 500 Chain Report, the company generated sales of 5.5 billion US dollars in fiscal year 2019.