Chipotle Is Opening Its First Digital-Only Restaurant This Weekend
If everything goes well, we might start seeing more locations like this.
Order online, drive to the store, step inside to pick up your order, and be on your merry way. That's the system that Chipotle customers in Highland Falls, New York, will follow after the chain's first digital-only location opens on Saturday, November 14.
Highland Falls is a village just south of the United States Military Academy, and with fewer than 4,000 residents, it's not exactly a key market for corporations to tap into. Still, Chipotle sees potential in the area... with a few tweaks to the business model.
The Chipotle Digital Kitchen is the fast-casual chain's answer to serving untraditional locales. It's a new type of store for the chain, one that follows a grab-and-go business model and only accepts online and in-app orders. There's no dining room—only a small waiting area—and no service line up front. You simply order ahead, walk in, find your order in the lobby's pick-up area, and leave. There will be a separate lobby for picking up large catering orders.
“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, in a statement. “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.”
If everything goes well, Highland Falls may not be the only town with a Digital Kitchen down the road.
"The new prototype will allow Chipotle to enter more urban areas that wouldn’t support a full-size restaurant and allows for flexibility with future locations," the company explained in a press release.
Design concepts like the Digital Kitchen are crafted in Chipotle's new Cultivate Center in Irvine, California, near the corporate headquarters. In the 22,000-square-foot space, innovators can think up new ideas, test new recipes, film commercials, and build prototypes of potential store features.