Quick-service restaurant (QSR) chain Chipotle Mexican Grill is gearing up for some big changes as it revamps its menu, adding new items like quesadillas and nachos. New grills need to be purchased, for example, and the assembly line needs to be reworked, The New York Times reported.
“We’re not built right now to make a great quesadilla,” said Chipotle’s chief executive officer, Brian Niccol. “The worst-case scenario is the person in front of you orders a quesadilla.”
Chipotle’s stores are designed to make a basic menu of burritos, salads, bowls and tacos. Its grills can warm tortillas in a matter of seconds, but take much longer — two and a half minutes — to cook quesadillas. As a result, the QSR will experiment by rolling out five menu items at its New York City-based NEXT test kitchen to make adjustments before bringing the items to more stores. The challenge will be how to bring in the new items without slowing down the assembly line.
Chipotle is also ramping up its digital efforts and may roll out more drive-thru lanes. Five of its locations currently feature drive-thrus in the U.S., but more might be in the works, CNBC reported.
“As we are looking at our real estate pipeline, part of the criteria that has been introduced is to understand how many of those sites might lend themselves to that experience, even if we don’t open them immediately with [the mobile lane] enabled,” said Curt Garner, Chipotle’s chief digital and information officer.
The QSR rolled out a new mobile app in November 2017, aimed at enhancing customers’ dining and online ordering experiences. Customers must order ahead through the mobile app or an online form to use Chipotle’s drive-thru lanes. The fast-casual restaurant chain provides customers with a pick-up time when they complete the ordering process, and customers can simply head to the drive-thru lane to retrieve their items instead of going into a store.