Well aware of the coronavirus climate, which could trigger a surge in delivery orders, Chipotle Mexican Grill announced plans Thursday to launch free delivery “to make life easier for guests.”
The delivery promotion, where orders can now be tracked through the brand’s app, will run from March 15 through the end of the month. In making the reveal, Chipotle’s savvy marketers recast the name of the company’s digital second make lanes, referring to them as Delivery Kitchens.
“Delivery orders are customized via Chipotle's Delivery Kitchen, which is comprised of a dedicated ingredient line operated by a special team. The Delivery Kitchen provides guests with the same great Chipotle experience whether they choose to dine in, order ahead and pick up, or have it delivered,” the Newport Beach, Calif.-based company said in a statement released Thursday.
Chipotle said the app now includes a delivery tracker for step by step updates. Packages will also feature “a new, tamper evident packaging seal to help ensure food is untouched during delivery,” the company said.
Consumers wanting to limit direct contact can also leave special instructions for delivery drivers. Major delivery operators are promoting contactless options.
"Our Delivery Kitchen is like a Chipotle within a Chipotle, preparing real, fresh, personalized bowls and burritos solely for digital guests," Chris Brandt, Chief Marketing Officer, said in a statement.
He said Chipotle is the first brand to scale such a concept nationally with more than 2,500 restaurants featuring a unique set-up for digital orders.
Free delivery, which is powered by DoorDash, is available on orders of $10 or more made via the Chipotle app or Chipotle.com from March 15 to March 31, 2020.
Chipotle also encouraged digital customers to take advantage of order ahead and pick up through Chipotlanes, the company’s new drive thru lanes.
But are delivery orders spiking? The major delivery operators have declined to reveal if orders have surged since the outbreak. However, industry watchers have suggested that takeout orders could soar as consumers engage in social distancing.
Carryout business is already on the rise in New York, which has had a number of cases.
New York City-based Lunchbox, which offers white-label digital ordering services to 400 restaurants in New York, said sales are up 26% across all brands. Digital orders are up 14% since the outbreak began making headlines in the U.S. in mid-January, the company told NRN. The company works with Bareburger and Sticky’s Finger Joint and Fuku.
Restaurant stocks have been hammered all week. Chipotle's stock hovered above $700 a share last Friday. It was currently trading today at around $590.
Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @fastfoodmaven