New layout next step in Chipotle reboot

Discussion
Photo: Chipotle
Dec 26, 2019
Matthew Stern

After a series of struggles mid-decade that painted a bleak picture for the future of Chipotle, the fast-casual burrito chain is by many accounts back on the upswing. Now Chipotle is rolling out a new redesign to build on its digital momentum as online sales approach $1 billion.

The design features a walk-up pickup windows and a specialized area for app ordering to reduce friction and increase convenience for customers and delivery drivers alike. Said Curt Garner, chief technology officer, in a statement, “By better suiting our restaurants to accommodate the digital business, we’re able to finalize orders more effectively and provide a better overall experience for our guests.”

The look and feel will also be different, with an open layout and a direct line of sight into the kitchen. The openness is designed to emulate the chain’s increased commitment to transparency and inspire a sense of community. Additionally, bottled beverages will be more accessible with a customer-facing reach in cooler built into the serving line.

Said Tabassum Zalotrawala, chief development officer of Chipotle, “Our eco-friendly, natural aesthetic and locally sourced approach to this design builds on our strong brand values and mission of cultivating a better world.”

New layout next step in Chipotle reboot
Photo: Chipotle

The new restaurant design will be trialed in four stores.

Chipotle took a big hit to its reputation in 2015, when a wave of norovirus and e. coli outbreaks created a nationwide PR disaster. Former Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol became CEO in March 2018 and instituted a turnaround plan.

After some trepidation early on, the market and press have been responding favorably, with Business Insider recently describing the chain’s turnaround as “incredible.” The article ascribes the chain’s return to customers’ good graces to the introduction of new menu items, a focus on its mobile app and delivery, a new loyalty program and improved staff training.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you see as the greater benefit of Chipotle’s new design: easing online pickup or increasing transparency? What are the most important factors likely driving Chipotle’s continued momentum?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"People love Chipotle – me included. When large orders come in currently the in-person line stops. Anything to keep the line moving is much appreciated."
"Making online order pickup easy is far more important to me than transparency. "
"Transparency is a nice to have, but speed of services for all customers is a must have."

Join the Discussion!

5 Comments on "New layout next step in Chipotle reboot"


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Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

Smart. People love Chipotle – me included. When large orders come in currently the in-person line stops. Anything to keep the line moving is much appreciated.

Michael Terpkosh
BrainTrust

Bob I am with you! When the in-person line grinds to a halt because of an online order it totally wrecks Chipotle’s in-store customer service experience. I look forward to Chipotle modifying their preparation areas for separate prep of in-person and online orders. I also hope the new layout addresses creating a larger, brighter, and better queuing experience. I would also like to see Chipotle step-up their customer seating area cleanliness. Many other fast casual restaurants (like Noodles) do a much better job with maintaining their seating area cleanliness.

David Naumann
BrainTrust
David Naumann
Retail Industry Analyst
6 months 17 days ago

As a loyal Chipotle customer, I was not deterred by the norovirus and e. coli outbreaks as I know this can happen at any restaurant, especially independent restaurants. Convenience and a good quality to value ratio is what drives me to Chipotle. Making online order pickup easy is far more important to me than transparency. I have ordered online while in the parking lot at Chipotle (because I didn’t have my wallet with me) and my order was set-up in the queue for 15 minutes later. However, when I walked in and let them know about my order, they expedited it. Offering customers more options on online order timing and effectively coordinating it with orders for customers in line is imperative. Eventually, I see all fast serve and quick serve orders being completed either on a kiosk or mobile phone and orchestrating the correct timing of orders is key.

Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

Transparency is a nice to have, but speed of services for all customers is a must have. In any restaurant when the people who are waiting to be served are placed second to those who phoned it in the people in the line are always going to feel slighted.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

I was surprised by the (2:1) edge our respondents gave to “transparency.” I’m assuming that they’re assuming this will give customers a feeling of safety. I don’t personally agree with the “customers” on this, though my perceptions may be atypical, but it seems like a dual edged knife: people don’t usually like to be stared at while working, and it sets up a ready avenue for alarmism.

As for the new layout — seating, floor plan — itself: eh. Fetishizing over details like this is usually a sign of either a restaurant that’s perfecting the dining experience … or misplacing priorities.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"People love Chipotle – me included. When large orders come in currently the in-person line stops. Anything to keep the line moving is much appreciated."
"Making online order pickup easy is far more important to me than transparency. "
"Transparency is a nice to have, but speed of services for all customers is a must have."

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