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Chipotle is testing curbside pickup

Chipotle is testing curbside pickup at 29 locations in California to give customers a way to get their tacos and burritos without having to go inside restaurants.

Here’s how it works: Customers who order from participating restaurants through the Chipotle app will see a “curbside pickup” option before they check out. Once the order is confirmed, they’ll see a set of instructions: Go to the restaurant, park as close to it as possible, and click an “I’m here” button in the app. Someone from Chipotle will bring the order out to the car. Customers will also be able to enter information about their car — like make, type and color — into the app.

Restaurants in the pilot program are in in Cupertino, San Jose, Palo Alto and other cities. If all goes well, the service could start rolling out to other areas in a matter of weeks, said Curt Garner, the company’s chief technology officer.

The move comes at a time when restaurants are focusing on enhancing their to-go options as pandemic-related restrictions continue to keep dining rooms closed or operating at limited capacity.

Chipotle started working on the curbside pickup pilot program about three months ago, Garner said. The company decided to test out the program after seeing how much people liked its Chipotlanes -— pick-up lanes for digital orders.

Customer feedback on Chipotlanes has “been overwhelmingly positive,” said Garner. “So we started thinking about ways we could extend that experience to restaurants that don’t have the ability to have a Chipotlane.”

Just 128 restaurants have Chipotlanes out of roughly 2,700 overall, John Hartung, Chipotle’s chief financial officer, said during an analyst call in October. About 70% of new restaurants will have a Chipotlane, according to the company.

The company is expanding its pickup options at a time when online orders are surging. In the third quarter of 2020, digital sales soared about 203% year-over-year and made up nearly one half of sales.

Over the past year, the company has also been beefing up its digital capabilities by letting customers order through Facebook Messenger, adding a chat bot called “Pepper” to its app and more.

Article Topic Follows: Biz/Tech

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