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Chipotle is testing a new restaurant design to maximize digital growth

Exterior of a redesigned Chipotle restaurant

Source: Chipotle Mexican Grill

Chipotle Mexican Grill announced Thursday that it is testing a different design for its restaurants as its digital business keeps growing.

Restaurants in Chicago, Cincinnati, Phoenix, Newport Beach and San Diego will be part of the test. Both new and existing locations will be involved in the trial. The test will also cover a variety of types of restaurants, including an urban storefront and a standalone location with a “Chipotlane,” its drive-thru lanes for digital orders.

Interior of a redesigned Chipotle restaurant

Source: Chipotle Mexican Grill

New features will include walk-up windows and different seating arrangements. To decide which design will roll out nationally, Chipotle will assess each location based on transactions, consumer feedback and its ability to incorporate new menu items.

“While we are staying true to Chipotle’s heritage, we are also excited to integrate new, innovative physical features into the restaurant that complement our growing digital business,” said Tabassum Zalotrawala, Chipotle’s chief development officer.

During the chain’s third quarter, digital sales grew 87.9% and accounted for nearly a fifth of its total sales.

Walk-up window at a redesigned Chipotle

Source: Chipotle Mexican Grill

In recent years, the design of Chipotle restaurants have changed to accommodate the new ways that customers received their food. In 2016, the company starting adding second assembly lines in its kitchens for digital orders. The project was completed earlier this year.

Chipotle has also been improving how customers pick-up their digital orders by adding Chipotlanes to locations. In 2020, the chain plans to open between 150 to 165 new locations, with more than half including a “Chipotlane.” Customers can also pick up their online orders in stores using special pick-up shelves.

Shares of Chipotle, which has a market value of $23 billion, are up 91% so far this year. 

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