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This Mexican Chain Is Planning to Open 200 Locations This Year

And most of them will feature their new, modernized drive-thrus.

Coming off a successful fourth quarter in terms of sales, fast-casual chain Chipotle has announced a major expansion for 2021.

The company just released their fourth quarter earnings figures, which show a revenue growth of over 11%, with same-store sales increasing by almost 6% from October through the end of the year. Digital sales grew by 177% and accounted for nearly half of all transactions. With such a strong year-end performance in the rearview mirror, Chipotle seems to be confident they've figured out their secret pandemic weapon: the Chipotlanes. (Related: McDonald's Is Making These 8 Major Upgrades.)

The modernized drive-thru lanes geared toward order-ahead transactions have been a significant factor in the chain's growth, said CEO Brian Niccol on this week's earnings call. Chipotle already started expanding their new locations with Chipotlanes last year, adding the new drive-thru capabilities to 100 newly opened restaurants and retrofitting others. And they plan to continue on the same trajectory this year.

In 2021, the chain plans to open as many as 200 new restaurants, 70% of which will have Chipotlanes. The cleverly branded order-ahead car lanes are easily traceable back to Chipotle's success. Last year, the locations that had them brought in 10% more revenue than the ones that didn't.

While we still don't know what areas Chipotle is targeting for the expansion, the chain announced last year it is looking to expand in both urban and suburban areas. Chipotlanes are currently present in over 30 states, and it is likely Chipotle will introduce them to other states that house their 2,700+ restaurants.

For more on best drive-thru options, check out 8 Best Drive-Thrus in America Right Now, and don't forget to sign up for our newsletter to get the latest restaurant news delivered straight to your inbox.

Mura Dominko
Mura is ETNT's Executive Editor, leading the coverage of America's favorite restaurant chains, grocery stores, and viral food moments. Read more about Mura