San Diego Chipotle to test new digital design

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SAN DIEGO — A San Diego location will be among the first Chipotle stores in the nation to be revamped with a digital focus.

Nearly 20% of Chipotle’s sales came from digital orders last quarter. The chain is revamping six of its American restaurants with that concept in mind, adding walk-up windows and digital pick-up portals for online orders.

The new restaurants will place a larger emphasis on the “Chipotlane” concept, which lets customers order online and pick up their food through a drive-thru lane. It’s also creating unobstructed views of the kitchen to show how the food is made.

Restaurants in Chicago, Cincinnati, Newport Beach, San Diego and Phoenix will have the redesign first. Chipotle will then assess guest feedback and examine store performance before expanding the redesign nationally.

The chain did not immediately share a specific location for the San Diego revamp.

Chipotle said in a statement Thursday that the idea is to “help reduce friction and increase convenience for customers and delivery drivers alike.” It has beefing up its delivery options through partnerships with DoorDash, Postmates and GrubHub.

Under CEO Brian Niccol, Chipotle has been emphasizing its digital capabilities. He previously told CNN Business that he thinks digital orders could make up half of the chain’s sales.

Chipotle’s “digital transformation” is about “giving people more access and driving even further into this idea of a frictionless experience,” Niccol said. The company plans to continue leaning into tech, he added, noting that the “Chipotlanes” will likely “be a significant piece of our business.”

However, the overall look will remain largely the same. “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,” Tabassum Zalotrawala, Chipotle’s chief development officer said in the release.

Digital sales grew 90% in the third quarter and the company says it’s a $1 billion business. The stock is up 90% for the year.

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