Chipotle Mexican Grill is systematically adding drive-thru lanes to some of its new locations, but you won't be able to place an order at any of them.
The burrito chain has dealt with a very public three-year-long sales slump that crippled its stock price. To revitalize its sales and encourage diners to return, the brand has implemented strategies like digital ordering, delivery and adding new menu items that it hasn't pursued aggressively in the past.
Drive-thru windows are cropping up at Chipotle restaurants across the country, allowing customers the option of staying in their cars to get their burritos and bowls.
However, these drive-thrus are a little different from the typical fast food order and pick-up lane. Here customers don't order their food through a microphone, they do it ahead of time through Chipotle's app or an online form.
Diners are provided with a pick-up time once they place their order and can drive through the mobile order lane to grab their meal without having to go inside the store.
"[CEO] Brian [Niccol] has said very well that Chipotle has this huge opportunity ahead of us as it relates to access," Curt Garner, chief digital and information officer at Chipotle, told CNBC. "We still only have 2,500 locations. There are plenty of places and occasions for us to continue to grow into. But as we've looked at access, we've also looked at it in terms of different restaurant formats and these mobile drive-thru pick-up restaurants are part of that."
So far, Chipotle has five of these locations in the U.S. There are two stores in Ohio, and single stores in Tennessee, Texas and Massachusetts. But more are coming.
"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," he said.
In Virginia, a new Chipotle outfitted with this mobile pick-up lane is expected to open by the end of the year, a person familiar with the matter told CNBC.