Chipotle executives are suddenly warming up to the idea of drive-thrus

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

Chipotle executives are warming up to the idea of drive-thru service after more than two decades of rejecting the fast-food staple.

The company appears to be having a change of heart after launching its first drive-thru service at Tasty Made, Chipotle's newly opened burger restaurant in Lancaster, Ohio, according to Nomura Instinet analyst Mark Kalinowksi.

The drive-thru now accounts for more than half of the restaurant's business, and that's not going unnoticed by Chipotle's management team, Kalinowksi said.

"Historically, and unsurprisingly in this context, Chipotle has generally been anti-drive-thru," Kalinowski wrote in a note to clients.

But at a recent meeting with Chipotle management at the new Tasty Made restaurant, Kalinowski was told that "Chipotle management who have visited the Tasty Made restaurant may have had their eyes opened somewhat about the convenience a drive-thru can offer some types of customers (for example, a parent with multiple young children)."

Customers of the Tasty Made have also been inquiring about whether Chipotle will add drive-thru service.

"Apparently quite a few Tasty Made customers who are aware of the burger unit's connection to Chipotle have been asking, 'So, is Chipotle going to get drive-thru?'" Kalinowski wrote.

Chipotle did not respond to a request for comment.

"Perhaps Tasty Made's creation is the first step in a process that could lead to brand Chipotle testing this store format," Kalinowski wrote. "Chipotle may find out (as Starbucks did) that drive-thru units work for it (excellent returns, higher customer satisfaction, etc.)"

Drive-thru service is a huge source of business for fast-food chains. At McDonald's, drive-thru reportedly accounts for as much as 70% of business.

Chipotle co-CEO Steve Ells has floated the idea of adding drive-thru windows in the past, but at the time he said it could detract from the customer experience.

"In sort of expanding the Chipotle concept as we go to new markets, the question always comes up, should we try one with a drive-thru?" Ells said during an October 2012 call with analysts. "And part of what customers love is the ability to customize... And a drive-thru distances them from that. So it doesn't seem like for the majority of our customers it's something that would be relevant."

"That being said, it's certainly something that we could try in the future," he added.

Adding drive-thru service would likely only be a possibility at standalone Chipotle restaurants, and even then, pretty significant changes to the restaurant infrastructure would have to be made.

But with the company's sales still in a slump following last year's E. coli outbreak, Chipotle is testing all kinds of new ways to attract customers, such as offering free food coupons and adding new things like dessert to the menu.

RELATED: Chipotle restaurants through the years

21 PHOTOS
Chipotle restaurants through the years
See Gallery
Chipotle restaurants through the years
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 9: Steve Ells, 32, owner of the Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant chain, in front of one of his stores at 32nd & Lowell Blvd. in Denver, Colorado on Monday, Feb. 9, 1998. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Exterior of the Chipotle restaurant on Wisconsin Ave. NW Washington, D.C. (Photo by Michael Williamson/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
GLENVIEW, IL - DECEMBER 02: Activity is seen near the order-counter area inside a Chipotle restaurant December 2, 2005 in Glenview, Illinois. McDonald's Corp., owners of 92 percent of Chipotle, are preparing its Mexican-style eateries for an initial public offering. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
CHICAGO - JANUARY 26: The Chipoltle Mexican Grill logo is painted on the door of one of the Chain's restaurants in the trendy Bucktown neighborhood January 26, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois. McDonald's spin-off of the restaurant chain ended the day with the Initial Public Offering (IPO) closing at $44, double its opening price. It was the best opening day gain by a U.S.-based IPO in more than five years. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 26: Workers prepares meals at Chipotle Mexican Grill in West Bloomfield, Michigan on Thursday, January 26, 2006. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.'s shares more than doubled on the first day of trading after McDonald's Corp. took the fast-growing chain public. (Photo by Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 26: The original Chipotle restaurant at 1644 E. Evans Ave in Denver, shown here on Jauary 26, 2006. (Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
A Chipotle burrito in it's signature aluminum wrap on Friday, February 12, 2010. Burrito was that the original location on E. Evans Ave. Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post (Photo By Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Chipotle burritos at the original location on E. Evans Ave. Bryan Sawyer who eats about 3 times a week at the Chipotle eats a steak black bean burrito on Friday, February 12, 2010. Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post (Photo By Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer: -- Kyle Braley stirs a tomatillo green chili salsa at Chipotle Mexican Grill in South Portland on Monday, December 13, 2010. The popular restaurant chain, which serves naturally-raised beef, chicken and pork, has its grand opening today. (Photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
A pedestrian walks into a Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. location in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012. Chipotle, the best- performing restaurant stock in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index last year, is expected to release earnings data on Oct. 18. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. logo is displayed on a paper bag at a location in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012. Chipotle, the best- performing restaurant stock in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index last year, is expected to release earnings data on Oct. 18. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. employees prepare food at a location in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012. Chipotle, the best- performing restaurant stock in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index last year, is expected to release earnings data on Oct. 18. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A steak burrito is arranged for a photograph with a drink and bags of chips at a Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. restaurant in Hollywood, California, U.S., on Tuesday, July 16, 2013. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is scheduled to release earnings data on July 18. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A employee sprinkles cheese on a burrito at a Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. restaurant in Hollywood, California, U.S., on Tuesday, July 16, 2013. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is scheduled to release earnings data on July 18. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Employees prepare lunch orders at a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant at Madison Square Park in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is expected to release earnings figures on Jan. 30. Photographer: Craig Warga/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Employees prepare lunch orders at a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant at Madison Square Park in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is expected to release earnings figures on Jan. 30. Photographer: Craig Warga/Bloomberg via Getty Images
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 05: A Chipotle restaurant is seen on March 5, 2014 in Miami, Florida. The Mexican fast food chain is reported to have tossed around the idea that it would temporarily suspend sales of guacamole due to an increase in food costs. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A Chipotle eatery in the Financial District of Manhattan NYC viewed from the outside looking in shows the interior design as well as people eating & talking, & also reflects the urban building from across the street in the upper left corner of the window
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2015/10/18: Restaurants in USA: Chipotle Mexican Grill Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. is a chain of restaurants in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and France, specializing in Mission burritos and tacos. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- FEBRUARY 8: A sign sits in the window of a Chipotle restaurant on Broadway in Lower Manhattan telling customers the restaurant is closed until 3 p.m. on February 8, 2016 in New York City. The Mexican food chain is closing stores for lunch nationwide for a meeting on food safety following a number of E. coli outbreaks. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

NOW WATCH: We compared Popeyes and KFC fried chicken — here's the verdict

See Also:

SEE ALSO: Chipotle's CEO made a stunning admission about a grave problem plaguing the brand

Read Full Story

Want more news like this?

Sign up for Finance Report by AOL and get everything from business news to personal finance tips delivered directly to your inbox daily!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners