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Chipotle To Open Its First Digital-only Restaurant This Weekend

Chipotle Mexican Grill said it will open its first-ever digital-only restaurant in New York on Saturday. The move is part of efforts by the Mexican food chain to capitalize on the surge in digital sales amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The new restaurant, called the Chipotle Digital Kitchen, will be open for pick-up and delivery only. It is located just outside of the gates to the military academy in Highland Falls, New York.

Unlike a traditional restaurant, the new restaurant does not have dining room or front service line. Customers must order in advance via the Chipotle app, website or third-party delivery partners.

The Digital Kitchen will also service large catering orders, which will have a separate lobby with a dedicated entry for pick-up.

In late September, Chipotle Mexican Grill said its digital sales grew 202.5 percent in the recent third quarter and accounted for 48.8 percent of the company’s total sales for the quarter.

The restaurant industry, the second-largest private-sector employer in the U.S., is among the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Restaurant operators nationwide reported sharp declines in sales and employment levels in the months following the coronavirus-induced lockdowns.

A survey by the National Restaurant Association or NRA in September found that the restaurant industry is set to lose $240 billion in sales by the end of 2020.

Other restaurant chains are also implementing changes to their business as they grapple with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Contactless delivery options, including curbside pickup and carside delivery services are gaining in popularity as customers make fewer trips to restaurants and stores.

Starbucks said earlier this year that its U.S. store portfolio transformation includes the expansion of new Starbucks Pickup stores in dense markets including New York City, Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco, and convenience-led enhancements such as curbside, drive-thru and walk up windows in suburban areas.

In October, Shake Shack said it expects to open between 35 and 40 new company-operated Shacks in 2021, many of which will incorporate the company’s new Shack Track and Drive Thru designs.

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