Chipotle Mexican Grill will be opening its first-ever digital-only restaurant called the Chipotle Digital Kitchen. Located just outside of the gates to the military academy in Highland Falls, N.Y., the restaurant will open this Saturday for pickup and delivery only. The new prototype will allow Chipotle to enter more urban areas that wouldn't support a full-size restaurant and allows for flexibility with future locations.
The new Chipotle Digital Kitchen concept is focused on accelerating the digital business in non-traditional locations. It is unique because it does not include a dining room or front service line, and guests must order in advance via Chipotle.com, the Chipotle app or third-party delivery partners. Orders can be picked up from a lobby that is designed to include all of the sounds, smells and kitchen views of a traditional Chipotle restaurant, the company said. The Chipotle Digital Kitchen will also service large catering orders that are available for pickup in a separate lobby with its own dedicated entry.
"The digital kitchen incorporates innovative features that will complement our rapidly growing digital business while delivering a convenient and frictionless experience for our guests," Chipotle chief technology officer Curt Garner said. "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."
Chipotle's new design concepts and menu innovation are envisioned at the company's Cultivate Center in Irvine, Cal. Located minutes from Chipotle's corporate headquarters, the new 22,000 sq. ft. facility features the same natural aesthetic with eco-friendly materials and designs found in Chipotle restaurants, the company said. To pay homage to its heritage, the original sign from the first Chipotle restaurant -- opened in 1993 in Denver, Colo. -- dons the entryway.
The Cultivate Center is home to Chipotle's official test kitchen, where its culinary team utilizes responsibly sourced ingredients to test recipes and concoct future menu items, the company said. The space also includes a production studio for filming commercials and developing creative concepts as well as a room for restaurant training and development.
The Cultivate Center also includes the Center of Excellence for Design & Construction and houses a fully equipped development lab and metal cutting and woodworking machinery to build and test new prototypes before rolling them out in a restaurant environment. Additionally, the space includes a consumer research center to allow for focus groups and gathering critical insights. The conference rooms and event spaces will be utilized for board meetings, group gatherings and special events in the years to come.
"The Cultivate Center is a best-in-class space that will allow us to push the boundaries of innovation while delivering on our mission of cultivating a better world," Chipotle chief development officer Tabassum Zalotrawala said.