Chipotle Mexican Grill is capitalizing on the surge in online demand and opening its first digital-only restaurant in Highland Falls, New York, just outside the gates of West Point military academy.
“The Digital Kitchen incorporates innovative features that will complement our rapidly growing digital business, while delivering a convenient and frictionless experience for our guests,” Curt Garner, chief technology officer at Chipotle, said in a statement on Wednesday (Nov. 11).
Chipotle Digital Kitchen will start taking online orders for pickup or delivery on Saturday (Nov. 14). The blueprint will enable the Denver-headquartered restaurant chain to enter urban markets and other locations that don’t have room for a full-size dining room.
“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,” Garner added.
The digital kitchen concept gets rid of the dining room, service line, and checkout, taking orders only on the Chipotle app or website, or via a third-party delivery service. The pickup space will look, feel and smell like a typical Chipotle restaurant.
The concept for the new unit was hatched at the company’s Cultivate Center in Irvine, California, a short distance from Chipotle’s corporate headquarters. The new 22,000 square foot facility has the “same natural aesthetic with eco-friendly materials and designs found in Chipotle restaurants.” The original 1993 signage from its very first location in Denver, Colorado hangs in the entrance.
The Cultivate Center houses the Chipotle test kitchen, a production studio, and training area. The studio will be used for creative development and for filming commercials.
Chipotle’s Center of Excellence for Design and Construction is also located within the center and features a development lab, metal cutting machines and woodworking equipment to create and trial new prototypes. The center also has space for consumer research and focus groups as well as conference rooms and event spaces.
“The Cultivate Center is a best-in-class space that will allow us to push the boundaries of innovation while delivering on our mission of cultivating a better world,” said Tabassum Zalotrawala, chief development officer of Chipotle.
In an August interview with PYMNTS, Chipotle Chief Restaurant Officer Scott Boatwright said the company’s digital readiness, along with its app, “saved the day” during the pandemic. Digital sales soared 140 percent from March to July.