Chipotle Mexican Grill has reached a new milestone.
The fast-casual giant — the only restaurant company of its size that owns and operates all its restaurants — has opened its 500th location that features the brand’s digital order drive-thru pick-up lane (“Chipotlane”). Located in Louisville, Ky., the restaurant also features a dining room and patio.
Chipotle said it is building a real estate pipeline to accelerate new unit growth with an emphasis on Chipotlanes. Next year, the company plans to open between 255 to 285 new restaurants, with at least 80% including the digital order drive-thru lane.
Introduced in the U.S. in early 2018, the format is designed to give customers and delivery drivers a fast and convenient experience. New restaurant openings that feature this digital order pick-up lane have demonstrated higher volumes and greater returns than a traditional Chipotle restaurant format, the company said.
"Chipotlanes are the digital drive thru of the future and a key piece of our growth strategy as we plan to more than double our restaurant count over the long term to achieve 7,000 restaurants or more in North America,” said Tabassum Zalotrawala, chief development officer.
Chipotle Mexican Grill is also piloting advanced technologies to automate kitchen workflows and mobile-enable the store experience for customers. It also is piloting advanced location-based technology to enhance its app functionality and provide a seamless, convenient experience for in-store customers.
To further increase access for its digital guests, Chipotle recently partnered with ASAP.com, a regional marketplace partner that provides seamless delivery service in more than 1,000 cities, mainly in the Southeast and Northeast. The partnership is intended to provide a timely delivery experience from more than 600 Chipotle restaurants on the East Coast, South and Mid-West, in addition to Chipotle's existing national delivery partnerships.
Chipotle had nearly 3,100 restaurants as of September 30, 2022, in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.