Chipotle Is Bringing Us into the Future with a New Digital Kitchen

The new Ohio location will not have any indoor guest seating.

Courtesy of Chipotle

Fast food chains are beacons of innovation. From the very concept itself to the momentous and sometimes frighteningly large heaps of food they offer, these chains often usher in the future. But one aspect of the industry has remained painfully stagnant for too long: the process of actually picking up the food. It can be slow and time-consuming, the antithesis of fast. Now, thankfully, even that aspect is catching up.

Chipotle announced on Friday that it is opening its first Digital Kitchen in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Cleverly named Chiptotlane, the new structure will offer a drive-thru lane and a walk-up window for digital order pick-up. The site will open later in December.

The restaurant will have no inside guest access as part of the modernization process. There will be outdoor seating available for those who want to hang around. To place orders, guests will have to place their orders through the Chipotle app or Chipotle.com.

"Chipotlanes are a key growth strategy for the brand," said Tabassum Zalotrawala, chief development officer at Chipotle, in a press release. "Our portfolio of approximately 300 Chipotlanes perform with the highest margins across the board, so we continue to evolve our restaurant design with formats such as the Chipotlane Digital Kitchen to best suit our growing digital business."

The chain introduced the digital drive-thru lanes in 2018 and has since seen many customers use them, often leading to a quicker transaction. It's part of an industry-wide trend to bring customers into company-specific apps. Taco Bell launched a similar project earlier this year in Minnesota, with a four-lane drive-thru that prioritizes pick-up and mobile orders.

The future is right at our fingertips!

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.