Milestone 3,000th Chipotle store debuts ahead of accelerated small town penetration in years ahead
The 3,000th Chipotle store, a Chipotlane in Phoenix, Arizona, has opened. Announced today, the new restaurant, with a built-in order-ahead drive-thru, marks a milestone achievement. Company executives ‘virtually rang” The Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange today, according to an announcement.
Last year, Chipotle Mexican Grill opened 215 locations in Canada, the United States and Europe. Of those, 80% of the locations included a Chipotlane, which has come to refer both to the drive-thru and locations that contain them. In 2022, the Mexican-style chain will open 235 to 250 new restaurants.
The Chipotlane has been profitable, with the format increasing convenience for the customer and bumping the sales of new locations. For the Chipotlane, as in the 3,000th Chipotle store, the Newport Beach, Calif.-based chain is erecting a multi-faceted approach for growth.
The fast casual’s three-pronged approach to increasing Chipotlanes will stem from new restaurant openings, strategic relocations and existing building conversions. Chipotle also plans to penetrate small-town sites, as they can deliver better returns than traditional ones.
Brian Niccol, Chipotle chief executive, said on a Q4 earnings call, “I’m excited to share that over the long term, we now believe we can operate at least 7,000 Chipotle restaurants in North America, up from our prior goal of 6,000 based on the success of small town opportunities that are delivering unit economics at or better than our traditional locations….People want Chipotle in their towns. The landlords want Chipotle in their centers. And we just demonstrated now we also have the small town opportunity to add to the Chipotlane opportunity.”
And taking advantage of to-go format stores, the brand opened its first Chipotlane Digital Kitchen concept store. The digital-forward prototype, featuring a Chipotlane and walk-up window, debuted in December. In addition, Chipotle rolled out smarter pick-up times. It also enhanced its Chipotle Rewards loyalty program, and expanded its digital flywheel, providing for several digital ordering enhancements.
“Our phenomenal teams have demonstrated their abilities to deliver against our aggressive expansion strategies,” added Jack Hartung, chief financial officer at Chipotle. “We are well positioned to drive sustainable long-term growth and I am optimistic that we will achieve our goals while continuing to Cultivate a Better World.”
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