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Chipotle Follows Starbucks and Opens Store Without a Dining Room

Following the success of its drive-through "Chipotlanes," the fast food chain is launching its first digital kitchen restaurant later this month.

Mexican food chain Chipotle  (CMG) - Get Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. Report has gone a step further than just drive-through lanes and set up its first digital kitchen for customers to pick up online orders.

Chipotle's Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio restaurant, expected to open later this month, does not have a dining room for guests or a front line to place orders. Instead, customers and delivery drivers can collect their digital orders placed online through what the restaurant calls "Chipotlanes," or use the walk-up window.

The burrito chain's digital kitchen restaurant also offers outdoor patio seating for customers to sit and eat.

"Chipotlanes are a key growth strategy for the brand," said Chief Development Officer Tabassum Zalotrawala in a statement. 

"Our portfolio of approximately 300 Chipotlanes perform with the highest margins across the board, so we continue to evolve our restaurant design with formats such as the Chipotlane Digital Kitchen to best suit our growing digital business," Zalotrawala added.

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Chipotle opened its first drive-through lane in 2018, a July 2020 Wall Street Journal report said. 

The Newport Beach, Calif.-based company added 10,000 employees last year to work in these drive-through lanes. It set up 56 stores with drive-through lanes in 2020.

Drive-through lanes and related concepts have become hot commodities for restaurants during the pandemic, as they allow customers to stay socially distant with no capacity on seating limits.

Last month, coffee chain Starbucks  (SBUX) - Get Starbucks Corporation Report offered a similar choice to its customers when it partnered with Amazon Go, Amazon's  (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report cashierless convenience store to launch its first pickup store.

The store located in the heart of midtown Manhattan at 59th Street between Park & Lexington Avenues in New York could also be used as a co-working space.

"Our goal with this new store concept is to give our customers the ability to choose which experience is right for them as they go through their day," Senior Vice President of Global Growth and Development Katie Young said in an earlier statement.

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