Drive-thru lanes at Chipotle: could Houston be next?

Chipotle's new Carne Asada can be made into a burrito bowl.
Chipotle's new Carne Asada can be made into a burrito bowl.

HOUSTON – After San Antonio and Dallas, will Houston Chipotle restaurants be next to add drive-thru lanes? 

"Chipotlanes" as the company calls them, are not a new concept, but they are rare.

The company introduced the unusual system to five locations in the United States last year, according to a report by CNBC. Today, there are 18 "Chipotlanes" open at restaurants around the country and the restaurant chain plans to open several dozen more before the end of the year. 

In Texas, a restaurant in San Antonio was among the first to get a "Chipotlane" though restaurant-goers gave it mixed reviews on review website, Yelp. This week, two Dallas-Forth Worth-area restaurants debuted the lanes and three more will be added to restaurants in the area by the end of the year, according to a report by the Dallas Morning News.

While Chipotle wouldn't confirm if a Houston-area restaurant will have a drive-thru lane soon, they did say several locations across Texas will have the lanes by the end of the year. 

How it works: 

The big catch with "Chipotlanes" is they're not traditional drive-thrus. 

  • Customers have to order their food on the Chipotle app or online.
  • Once the order is placed, they will get a notification with a time when their order will be ready. 
  • Once the order is ready, the customer has to drive through the "Chipotlane" and pick up their order from the window

Wu says the company has had "great success" with the drive-thru lanes, which is why they are expanding nationwide. Chipotle has a large customer base that opts for delivery services and so the drive-thru lanes are expected to make delivery time quicker, according to Wu. 

"Chipotlanes add convenience for customers who prefer to order online and for those who prefer to stay in their car," Wu said. "Chipotlanes also help us quickly service customers and keep lines to a minimum inside our restaurants."