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Chipotle Chooses Chicago to Test Out New Restaurant Design

See the “Chipotlane” at a new Wrigleyville location

The exterior of a new Chipotle.
Chipotle has unveiled a new restaurant design.
Chipotle [Official Photo]
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Chipotle made news Thursday morning by announcing Chicago as one of the test markets where the fast-casual Mexican chain will debut three new restaurant designs with features including a new walk-up window dedicated to online orders. Chipotle will build new restaurants and retrofit old ones with the new features that are designed to grow its digital sales and speed up customer visits.

Locally, the first Chicago Chipotle affected by these changes is at the Addison & Clark complex near Wrigley Field, 1027 W. Addison Street. That restaurant, which includes a walk-up window outside, opened on Wednesday, according to a Chipotle rep. Chipotle joins Shake Shack, Do-Rite Donuts, Kilwin’s, and Lucky Strike Social at Addison & Clark.

The Wrigleyville location is an example of the company’s new urban design made for cities. The company has a different new design for places with more space like the suburbs and the outskirts of the city, which includes a new drive-thru lane where customers order via Chipotle’s smartphone app or via a PC. That’s a change from the traditional menu board speakers used for ordering at a drive-thru. The thinking is that these digital-online lanes speed up orders to add convenience because customers have already paid.

A customer dressed in a winter had and coat takes a hand off of a bag of food from a restaurant worker.
Chipotle’s new walk-up lanes.
Chipotle [Official Photo]
A modern looking restaurant’s interior.
The interior of a newly redesigned Chipotle.
Chipotle [Official Photo]

The chain is calling the walk-ups and drive-thrus “Chipotlanes.” The company hopes to have lanes in 150 to 165 locations by next year. Digital sales continue to increase for the company, as CNBC reported that during the chain’s third quarter, Chipotle’s rose to 87.9 percent and made up about a fifth of overall sales.

Chains are increasingly leaning on digital sales tactics. Taco Bell has a national ad campaign trumpeting its partnership with GrubHub. McDonald’s reserves parking spaces for online orders outside its West Loop headquarters on Randolph Street, a place where street parking is notoriously difficult. In November, Potbelly Sandwich Shop unveiled its own new restaurant design in Logan Square.

Other markets that will feature the new design include Dallas-Fort Worth, Cincinnati, Phoenix, Newport Beach, and San Diego. The chain now has 35 restaurants in Chicago.