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America's Favorite Fast-Casual Restaurant Is Debuting This Unusual Way to Pick Up Orders

Chipotle is rolling out these new pick-up windows.
FACT CHECKED BY Mura Dominko

You may be able to grab your favorite burrito without ever stepping foot into Chipotle ever again. The California-based fast-casual chain plans to beef up its drive-through options—and even create some new "lanes" for those picking up their orders on foot.

The chain's first walk-up window, which is being added to an existing Chipotle restaurant, will debut this week in Gainesville, Fla., where foot traffic from the University of Florida is overwhelming. There are also walk-up windows in a Chicago Chipotle, as well as a few in New York which were tested as part of the design as early as 2019.

The walk-thrus will solve the issue for urban locations that don't have room for a drive-thru but still need additional options for quick orders.

a man ordering a burrito or possibly a burrito bowl at a chipotle walk-through window
Courtesy of Chipotle

"We started thinking about locations that can't accommodate a Chipotlane, where there's not the space for it. These are urban, but have a lot of foot traffic," said Chipotle's chief development officer Tabassum Zalotrawala. "Generally, those units in an urban environment are spaces that are physically smaller, longer, or with narrower storefronts. So we thought what if we added walk-up windows, like a human lane, if you will, so if you were a customer that used the app and ordered ahead, you had no reason to go inside the restaurant, particularly those smaller footprints where you might find some congestion."

The chain's digital sales exploded during the pandemic and accounted for more than half of the brand's sales in 2020. Additionally, the company plans to hire up to 10,000 additional workers to work the drive-thrus, with the expectation that these will become the bedrock of the company.

Chipotle plans to add 235 to 250 new stores this year and expects 80% of them to have Chipotlane drive-thrus or walk-thrus.

These pick-up windows for pedestrians appear to be a win-win for customers and Chipotle alike: They don't cost as much for the restaurant to add compared to a drive-thru, which requires space and a concrete pad. Both, however, are able to accommodate more customers faster.

You'll be able to order ahead via the Chipotle app or website (no need to yell through the drive-thru speaker-box—and you can choose your pick-up time so your tacos will be hot when you arrive!) and walk or drive right up to the window for the ultimate convenience.

Danielle Braff
Danielle Braff is a freelance writer based in Chicago. Read more