Chipotle has started adding drive-thrus -- but there is a huge catch

Hollis JohnsonChipotle.
  • Chipotle has added drive-thrus to five locations across the US.
  • Unlike at most drive-thrus, customers need to order ahead, either online or through the chain’s app.
  • Chipotle is looking for new ways to drive sales, exploring new menu items and boosting delivery.

Chipotle has started adding drive-thrus to restaurants – but it is a little bit different from how other fast-food chains operate.

Five Chipotle locations in the US have added drive-thru windows,CNBC reported. Chipotle restaurants in Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Massachusetts are among those that have added drive-thrus.

However, instead of ordering at the window, customers need to order ahead via the Chipotle app or an online form.

Chipotle Monique R. YelpChipotle’s drive-thru in San Antonio, Texas.

Yelp photos of the San Antonio, Texas location with the drive-thru show a screen that says, “Picking up an online or app order?”

Customers are instructed to drive “straight ahead to burrito bliss.”

“When I went there was no line for the drive-thru,” one five-star review from February reads. “I think word still needs to get out about it. It’s a very unique concept, they have two kitchens/prepping areas.”

Chipotle drive thruYelp Monique R.Chipotle’s drive-thru in San Antonio, Texas.

Chipotle is working to build out its off-premise business with more drive-thru, to-go, and delivery sales.

Most Chipotle locations have a “second line” dedicated to making burritos, bowls, and more for customers other than those who are ordering in the restaurants, such as for mobile orders and catering.

“One of the first things I uncovered was the second make line,” Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol told Business Insider earlier in May. “I was just like, this is a huge … capability that we have not been taking full advantage of.”

Investors have been eager for Niccol to bring some changes to the struggling chain amid rumours of new menu tests and a revamped queso recipe.

Niccol, previously the CEO of Taco Bell, stepped into the role of Chipotle’s CEO in March. Taco Bell experienced a period of impressive growth under Niccol’s leadership, as the CEO pushed for creative marketing and wild new menu items such as the Naked Chicken Chalupa.

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