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Chipotle’s New Drive-Thru Is for Preorders Only

Burrito fans will need to think ahead and order online or with the app to satisfy their cravings

Michael Saechang/Flickr

Chipotle, the burrito chain that is still attempting to recover from a series of foodborne-illness disasters in 2015 and ’16, is adding drive-thru lanes to some new locations, reports CNBC. It’s the latest move by new chief executive officer Brian Niccol, the former Taco Bell CEO who took over for embattled founder Steve Ellis in February.

At first blush, this may appear to be Niccol, a former fast-food executive, attempting to add a little of the fast-food business model to a brand that has long resisted such notions. However, Chipotle’s drive-thrus differ from those used by chains such as Taco Bell and McDonald’s. Customers do not place orders on site, but instead will pick up food that has been preordered via the company’s mobile app or website, according to CNBC. Once that order is placed, the diner receives a “pick-up time” during which they’re welcome to grab their food at the mobile drive-thru.

Executives announced plans to test a drive-thru in an earnings call last year, and the first — known as a “mobile drive-thru pick-up” lane in Chipotle-speak — showed up at a location near Columbus, Ohio. The service is currently on offer at five locations in Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Massachusetts. There’s no word on a potential national rollout at all of Chipotle’s 2,500-plus restaurants, but CNBC reports Virginia is expected to get a drive-thru Chipotle later this year.

Niccol has been busy since he replaced Ellis three months ago. In March, Chipotle gave up on Tasty Made, its burger concept, and earlier this week, the company revealed plans to move its headquarters from Denver to Newport Beach, California — just a few miles down the road from Taco Bell HQ.

Chipotle Is Adding Drive-Thru Lanes, but You Can’t Order Food at Them [CNBC]
Chipotle Founder Steve Ells Steps Down as CEO [E]
Chipotle’s New CEO Hails From Taco Bell [E]
All Chipotle Coverage [E]