Chipotle changes: Is this what post-pandemic restaurants might look like?


(NEXSTAR) — Chipotle is opening what it’s calling a “digital-only” restaurant to reflect changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

The company says about half of its sales came through its website and app in the third quarter, so this new-concept store will reflect that major business shift.

The restaurant won’t have a dining room and employees won’t take orders. Instead, customers will order through an app and pick it up — or meals will be given to drivers to make deliveries.

Rather than traditional tables where people can eat, there will be a center table for people waiting on orders.

“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,” Curt Garner, Chipotle’s chief technology officer, said in a news release.

The first of these new-concept stores will open in Highland Falls, New York and cater to cadets at the West Point military academy.

The design and business model mirror a similar process used at a Starbucks location in New York City.

Billionaire Mark Cuban, who is a regular on the show “Shark Tank,” believes now is the time for businesses to rethink their workflows specifically citing the restaurant industry.

“If people aren’t going back to downtown anymore, the whole ecology of coffee shops, diners — those businesses are really going to struggle,” Cuban said during a CB Insights’ virtual Technology Conference earlier this year. “Sustaining a business and trying to retain legacy revenue streams are going to be more difficult for physical businesses, but there will be equivalent opportunities to create new businesses that aren’t held back by ways of the past.”

Cuban believes there’s no better time to start a company than during a pandemic-like experience. He said larger businesses will have to deal with legacy issues — like modifying or adjustment space and layouts.

“Existing businesses are going to have to figure out how to continue on, while new businesses may recognize the difference,” he added.

We’ve already seen some restaurants rework their drive-thrus to allow for additional cars and other restaurants embrace delivery.

Chipotle believes its digital-only store will also keep workers safer by limiting face-to-face interaction with customers.

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