Chipotle Drive-Thru for LI Mobile Order Pickups

Chipotle’s mobile drive-thru will hit Long Island for the first time this summer.

The nation’s second-largest Mexican restaurant chain plans to open two new restaurants on Long Island — one in Westbury this summer and one in Deer Park in 2023 — that will have “Chipotlanes,” which are drive-thrus only. for customers pick up food they pre-ordered on the Chipotle app or website.

Chipotle launched Chipotlanes in 2018 and had 355 at the end of last year. But none of the chain’s nearly 3,000 restaurants, including all 33 on Long Island, offer regular drive-thru, according to the Newport Beach, Calif.-based company.

But like other fast-food chains, such as Shake Shack and Panera, Chipotle has picked up the pace of incorporating some sort of drive-thru into new restaurants after finding they boosted sales, especially after COVID-19 pandemic canceled or reduced indoors. eat in certain restaurants for months.

“Since its launch in early 2018, the Chipotlane format has been shown to improve customer access and convenience, as well as increasing new restaurant sales, margins and returns,” a spokeswoman said. by Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.

New Chipotle restaurants are opening with sales that are about 15% higher if they have Chipotlanes, the company said.

Chipotlanes will be present in more than 80% of the 235 to 250 new Chipotle restaurants that will open in 2022, the company said.

“Chipotle has … been a leader among its fast peers when it comes to investing in drive-thrus,” said Kevin Schimpf, director of research and industry insights at Technomic, a company research on the restaurant and retail industry in Chicago.

Local packages

The Chipotle scheduled for Westbury will be at 474 Old Country Rd.

The town of Hempstead issued planning permission in August for a 2,328-square-foot restaurant that will have drive-thru, 42 indoor seating and 16 outdoor seating, said Frederick A. Jawitz, commissioner by interim of the city’s construction department.

The Westbury restaurant is under construction on the former site of a vacant three-tenant retail building that was demolished, said Adam Mann, a partner at Westbury 474 LLC, the Jericho-based owner of the Westbury property.

Chipotle has leased the building, which is expected to be completed in about six weeks, Mann said.

The 2,845-square-foot Deer Park restaurant is said to be in a former Capital One Bank building at 1831 Deer Park Ave.

Revised plans for interior alterations and facade renovations for a 48-seat restaurant are being reviewed by the City of Babylon’s engineering and planning divisions, the city spokesperson said. , Kevin Bonner.

The city’s planning board could vote on the project this month, he said.

The pandemic is accelerating change

Fast-casual restaurants used to ignore even the idea of ​​incorporating drive-thru.

Restaurants tried to differentiate themselves from fast food restaurants by offering contemporary interior designs, made-to-order dishes and fresh – or perceived to be fresh – ingredients to customers who were willing to pay more for it and get in.

This started to change several years ago, and the pandemic has accelerated the changes.

“During the depths of COVID-19, when dining rooms were closed, fast-casuals saw their [quick-service restaurant] their counterparts maintain steady sales through their drive-thru operations,” Schimpf said.

In addition, some customers who switched to digital ordering for the first time stayed there even after indoor dining resumed, said Jim Sanderson, restaurant analyst at Northcoast Research, an equity research firm in Cleveland.

Fast-food chains such as Shake Shack and Sweetgreen, which had never had a drive-thru before, changed their minds during the pandemic, while chains that already had a drive-thru, such as Chipotle and Panera, accelerated their growth, Schimpf said.

Shake Shack, which has four restaurants on Long Island, plans to introduce its drive-thru window for mobile orders, called Shack Track, to the area in late 2023 with a new restaurant in Oceanside.

The burger chain offers traditional drive-thru at just three restaurants, the first two of which opened in December, and eight Shake Tracks with drive-thru windows, the first of which opened in April 2021 in Indiana, after that the chain has experienced spectacular sales. drop during the pandemic.

By the end of 2022, Shake Shack plans to have 10 traditional drive-thru open nationwide, and 25% of its 45-50 new restaurants opening this year will have drive-in or walk-in windows. Shack Track, Randy Garutti, Shake Shack’s chief executive, said on a conference call with analysts in November.

Chipotle’s digital sales in 2021 grew 24.7% to $3.4 billion in 2021 and accounted for 45.6% of all sales.

About half of digital sales came from pre-order transactions “as customers better understand the value offered by this channel, as well as the added convenience of more Chipotlanes,” Chipotle said in an earnings report in February. .

Casey J. Nelson