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The Chipotle of the future will revolve around your 5G iPhone

Brian Sozzi
·Editor-at-Large
·2 min read

Chipotle is getting in on the COVID-19 fueled restaurant redesign movement started this year by rivals Burger King and Sonic.

Except for Chipotle, its restaurant of the future is all about unleashing the power of your mobile phone. The burrito and salad bowl joint this week unveiled its first-ever digital-only restaurant. Situated outside the gates to the military academy in Highland Falls, N.Y., the Chipotle Digital Kitchen has no indoor seating. Rather, to get a Chipotle fix one has to order from Chipotle’s website, its app or a third-party delivery partner such as Uber Eats.

The design reflects one part customers being in a hurry to get their order on the go, another avoiding large crowds eating indoors amidst an ongoing health crisis. More of these smartphone-friendly locations are in the works, Chipotle CFO Jack Hartung told Yahoo Finance Live.

“We’re excited about this because it just gives us another option in what we think is a growing option of different restaurant formats to open up to serve our customers in the best way possible,” Hartung said.

The concept should help Chipotle reach its goal of having 6,000 restaurants open, up from 2,700 or so today.

Photo by: STRF/STAR MAX/IPx 2020 10/9/20 Big Business in New York City.
Chipotle introduced a digital-only store. Photo by: STRF/STAR MAX/IPx 2020 10/9/20

Chipotle’s new format follows another solid quarter amidst the pandemic, driven by digital ordering.

The company’s third quarter same-store sales rose 8.3%. Digital sales surged 202.5% from a year ago, representing 48.8% of total sales in the quarter.

Hartung declined to comment on quarter-to-date sales. But, he did voice some concern on how the restaurant industry will navigate fresh mobility restrictions by some states dealing with coronavirus infection spikes.

“Our business because we have the different channels it will hold up OK. But generally, people don’t go out and about when the government is talking about shutdowns and shutting down dining rooms and the pandemic is growing. They hunker down at home more than ever before,” Hartung added.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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