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Chipotlanes: Why Chipotle Is Shifting Its Real Estate Strategy To Prioritize Mobile Pick-Up Lanes

In response to rising digital sales, the chain plans to build over 60 Chipotlanes by the end of the year.

Chipotle knows how to take advantage of business trends. With digital ordering constantly growing and mobile pick-up orders are becoming more popular than ever, Chipotle began rolling out its innovative Chipotlanes at locations all over the nation earlier this year. Now, the brand is doubling down on the pick-up lanes, with nearly 60 Chipotles under construction slated to feature a Chipotlane.

The need for quick and convenient foodservice offerings are bringing franchisors to invest in the off-premises needs of their guests, including third-party delivery partnerships, pick-up cubbies and self-ordering kiosks. To keep up with the trend, the drive-thru industry is finding ways to innovate. 

As opposed to traditional drive-thru windows, Chipotlanes are express windows that allow customers to order online ahead of time and pick up their orders at a specified time. The chain has good reason to focus on Chipotlanes. Since building nearly 20 of the mobile pick up lines, digital sales have grown 87.9% to $257 million and accounted for 18.3% of sales.

Other fast casuals have been testing similar drive-thru pickup windows. Cava plans to open five pick-up by car locations this year where guests can use the Pick-Up By Car option on the restaurant’s app or website. The fast casual pizza chain Blaze is also set to open five "Blaze-Thrus" this year where customers will be able to order ahead online and pick up their orders at a designated time without getting out of their cars.

Regardless, this trend isn’t going anywhere. In 2020, Chipotle expects to open 150 to 165 restaurants and more than half will include Chipotlanes. Only time will tell if these mobile ordering windows are the future of drive-thru.