Restaurants & Bars | December 22, 2019 7:26 am

Chipotle Experiments With Takeout Windows

The latest in a series of bold initiatives from the restaurant chain

A Chipotle location in Orlando, 2016.
Miosotis Jade/Creative Commons

There was a point a few years ago where Chipotle felt ubiquitous. Not just the restaurant itself — though it could certainly feel that way as well. But Chipotle’s methodology of ordering at restaurants felt like something that was inspiring restaurants in other cuisines to follow their lead. “Chipotle, but for ____” felt like an elevator pitch that worked. Or, as a 2012 Slate headline put it, “Chipotle is Apple.” 

That that method of ordering would catch on makes sense: sometimes, you might want to order a sofritas bowl with hot salsa; at others, a carnitas burrito with mild salsa and all the cheese could whet your appetite. But being the Apple of fast food isn’t a perpetual thing: Chipotle itself has had more bumps in the road than the actual Apple in recent years, including a food safety scandal

In the years since then, Chipotle has opted for a sense of experimentation — including dedicating one New York City location to menu items that might never make it to the national stage. Grub Street has the news that Chipotle is trying out a different sort of experiment in a few of its locations as well: namely, takeout windows

Writing for Grub Street, Chris Crowley chalks this change up to Chipotle’s boom in online orders. “Lucky residents of Chicago and Phoenix will get to talk to other people as little as possible thanks to these new locations, and San Diego and Newport Beach will each get a retrofitted restaurant,” he writes. 

The New York Post has more details on the new designs. All told, there are four distinct concepts that will be rolled out in the coming months, including a drive-through option for certain types of pickups. How the embrace of takeout orders will affect the dine-in experience remains to be seen. Hopefully the sofritas will still be delicious. 

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