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Chipotle is testing ‘carside’ pickup

The new option, available via the fast casual’s app, would be used in locations where a drive-thru lane can’t be built.
Chipotle carside
Photo courtesy Chipotle Mexican Grill

Chipotle Mexican Grill on Thursday said it is testing a “carside pickup” option at 29 restaurants in California.

Under the new program, consumers can select “carside pickup” when ordering from the Chipotle app and a worker will bring the order out to the car. The app allows diners to input their vehicle’s type, make and color to ease the handoff.

Users are instructed to park in a spot as close to the restaurant as possible and to tap the “I’m Here” button on the app when they arrive.

“As our digital business evolves, we are continuing to explore ways to remove friction and increase access to our real food,” Chipotle’s Chief Technology Officer Curt Garner said in a statement. “Chipotle Carside unlocks a new, highly convenient pick-up experience for guests from our restaurants’ parking lots.”

Chains and independents around the country have launched curbside pickup programs during the pandemic, often rolling them out in a matter of weeks to meet consumer demand.

At Chipotle, carside pickup will be considered at restaurants where mobile pickup Chipotlanes are not a good fit, a spokesman said.

Chipotlanes have proven to be wildly successful for the brand. Units with the pickup lanes are generating about 10% higher sales than those without, while also reporting fewer low-margin delivery orders. Chipotle has previously said that the majority of its new restaurants will include Chipotlanes.

Digital ordering has continued to grow at the chain during the pandemic. Since the start of the COVID crisis, one in three new customers have tried Chipotle through digital ordering channels, the company said in a statement.

Chipotle opened its first digital kitchen late last year, a small-footprint restaurant without a dining room that caters to delivery and pick-up orders.

During Q3, Chipotle’s digital sales tripled year over year and made up almost half of all of the chain’s sales for the quarter.

Earlier this month, the Newport Beach, Calif.-based chain added a chat bot named Pepper to its app to help with frequently answered questions and give quick responses to customer-service issues.

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