• NAI Global Offices

Chipotle Adds Drive-Thru, But It’s Not What You Think

The culinary industry is constantly adapting to meet consumer expectations. In order to appease contemporary customers, eateries are always looking to employ the ‘next big thing’. As seen in the case of one-dish stops and other failed restaurant trends, not all experiments are successful. However, the eateries who do it right are rewarded with massive successes.


One of the most promising restaurant trends of the year is the fast-casual food industry. Brands like Chik-Fil-A, artisanal pizza spots, and local salad bars are totally killing the game. While this sector business is booming, other companies are trying out creative methods to one-up the competition.


One example of this is Chipotle, America’s beloved burrito haven. The global company just added a drive-thru option for customers, but it’s a little different than traditional ones. Here’s a breakdown of their ingenious tech-driven adaptation.


The Mobile Drive-Thru

Drive-thrus are an old concept, and we all know how it goes. Drive up to a window, order into a microphone, pay, and receive your food. Up until now, the only real trailblazers have been fast-food chains like Sonic which use the good old car-hop system. This is where cheeky employees bring the orders up to cars that are parked in the lot - sometimes even on rollerskates.

However, our contemporary world needed something more innovative, and it was Chipotle who stepped up to the plate. Chipotle’s new drive-thru revolves around technology - not around human interactions.


These neo-drive-thrus have no place for customers to order, so make sure you’ve got the app ready at hand. Customers order through the mobile app or on the restaurant’s website ahead of time, pull into the line, check-in, and pick up their food. There’s no walking or talking, so it allows diners to stay in their cars and receive a walk-up delivery.


Potential Challenges

This idea is innovative, creative, and completely caters to the profile of contemporary consumers. It’s taking order pick-up to a whole new level, and so far customers are responding well. Burrito-lovers can find this system already functioning in Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Massachuttes; and locations around the country are working to add this to their repertoire.


However, Chipotle has a lot of work to do to keep this system successful. CNBC notes that the eatery needs to ensure that their customers can flow through the line as quickly as possible. On top of that, the orders need to be hot when the customer receives them, so there needs to be a high level of quality control.


Will This Trend Gain Momentum?

While this idea surely requires a large amount of diligence and timeliness, it has great potential to become the next big thing. Mobile drive-thru is introducing the omnichannel concept to the dining scene, and it’s making waves.


Some adjustments need to be made to optimize the system, but it’s no match for data’s evolutionary rate. Chipotle’s innovative mobile drive-thru is spearheading the restaurant industry, and it won’t be long until it’s adopted by other brands.

For updates on the latest CRE trends, check out our blog.




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