Chipotle opened what the fast-casual chain refers to as its first digital-only restaurant. The Chipotle Digital Kitchen, located in Highland Falls, N.Y., offers just pickup and delivery. The new prototype allows Chipotle to enter more urban areas that wouldn't support a full-size restaurant and allows for flexibility with future locations, per a release.
The Digital Kitchen concept focuses on accelerating Chipotle’s digital business in nontraditional locations. Along those lines, the Digital Kitchen prototype does not include a dining room or front service line, which means guests must order in advance online. Customers pick up their orders from a lobby designed to include all of the sounds, smells and kitchen views of a traditional Chipotle restaurant. The Digital Kitchen will also service large catering orders available for pick up in a separate lobby with its own dedicated entry.
“The Digital Kitchen incorporates innovative features that will complement our rapidly growing digital business, while delivering a convenient and frictionless experience for our guests,” says Curt Garner, chief technology officer of Chipotle. “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.”
Chipotle developed this design in the chain’s recently opened Cultivate Center in Irvine, Calif. Located near Chipotle's corporate headquarters, the 22,000-square-foot facility features the design found in Chipotle restaurants. To pay homage to its heritage, the original sign from the first Chipotle restaurant that opened in 1993 in Denver dons the entryway.
The Cultivate Center houses Chipotle's official test kitchen, where its culinary team test recipes and develops future menu items. The space also includes a production studio for filming commercials and developing creative concepts as well as a room for restaurant training and development. The Cultivate Center is home to the Center of Excellence for Design and Construction and houses a fully equipped development lab, metal cutting and woodworking machinery to build and test new prototypes before rolling it out in a restaurant environment. Additionally, the space includes a consumer research center to allow for focus groups and gathering critical insights.