Chipotle has started adding drive-thrus — but there is a huge catch

  • Chipotle has added drive-thrus to five locations across the US. 
  • Unlike at most drive-thrus, customers need to order ahead, either online or through the chain's app. 
  • Chipotle is looking for new ways to drive sales, exploring new menu items and boosting delivery. 

Chipotle has started adding drive-thrus to restaurants — but it is a little bit different from how other fast-food chains operate. 

Five Chipotle locations in the US have added drive-thru windows, CNBC reported. Chipotle restaurants in Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Massachusetts are among those that have added drive-thrus.

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18 Chipotle secrets

We’re required to give specific sizes of food

“The general public doesn't really know that we're required to give one non-heaping spoonful of each food (beans, rice, meat). The spoons that we used are the perfect size for the portion we're required to give out—they're the exact circumference and they're not curved, so we don't give too much. We're not skimping you—we promise—we're required to adhere to portion sizes, and that's a good thing because most of the times the burritos are gigantic anyway.”—Gianna, former Chipotle employee in Rhode Island

You can ask for more—with a catch

If you do get a skimpy scoop of something, Gianna shares that you can usually bring it to the employee’s attention and get a little more free of charge. However, Heather, who worked at a Chipotle in New Jersey, cautions, “Some employees might pull out the ‘so you want double?’ which then costs extra.”

Here’s when you should stop in for the shortest lines

“The shortest lines would normally occur right as we opened—so around 11 a.m.—and then in between peak hours, so often from 2 to 5 p.m. My home store was surrounded by a few high schools, so on days that kids had half days or off, we would be slammed during the day. The slowest days were Mondays and Tuesdays and as the week progressed, the store would become increasingly busier.”—Stephanie, former Chipotle employee for three and a half years

Check out these 57 secrets your restaurant waiter won’t tell you.

Use this hack to get more guacamole 

“When people asked for guac to go, smart people asked you to bang the plastic container down on the counter to remove air bubbles and allow for more guac! You are paying extra for that.”—Heather, former Chipotle employee in New Jersey

Or make the guacamole yourself!

It takes about 48 avocados to make a batch of guacamole at Chipotle restaurants, and between each of the 2,450 locations, thousands of batches are made every day. Luckily, you only need two avocados (and a few other ingredients) to duplicate the official Chipotle guac recipe at home.

We hate when you order the queserito 

Having to make a queserito (a quesadilla topped with burrito ingredients and rolled up like a burrito) during the lunch rush is every Chipotle employee's worst nightmare. “I think I speak for every past/present/future employee when I say that they are a pain to make—literally!” Stephanie says. “It's rolling a quesadilla. Hot cheese burns.”

That’s not the only “secret menu” item 

You can order three kinds of quesadillas at Chipotle: just cheese, cheese and meat, or cheese and vegetables. Stephanie has also seen people order nachos, where employees put chips in a bowl and then add the normal progression of ingredients on top.

Can’t finish that bag of chips?

Gianna suggests ordering the kids size chips, especially if you get them as a side for a burrito bowl. You’ll get a smaller portion that costs less than a regular bag of chips.

Yes, there's a way to keep your burrito from falling apart

"If you like to really load up on the salsas or ingredients, ask them to double wrap it for you! Adds a little extra tortilla security."—Quinn, current PR and communications manager

This secret code can save you money

Saying the words “three-pointer” or “new button” can get you a cheaper version of your favorite meal. (Both phrases mean the same thing, but the terminology isn’t uniform between all stores.) Stephanie explains how it works:

“Chipotle's ingredients are weighted on a point system, where ingredients that aren't as expensive to purchase for inventory purposes are rated as one point (i.e. lettuce, mild, rice), whereas ingredients like avocados, any of the meats and cheese, are counted as two points each because they are more expensive to purchase for inventory. That said, a "3-point" meal, might consist of a bowl with rice, beans, and tomatoes or a tortilla with just rice and cheese or a bowl of chicken and rice. Those options are not charged as much as a regular meal, due to the fact that they don't have as many ingredients. Trust me, customers like to remind us of that when they order a three-pointer!”

You can order white rice with no cilantro

 Cilantro haters, rejoice. Gianna reveals that Chipotle white rice is first made without cilantro, so it was easy for her to accommodate customers with that request. Check out these tricks to eating healthy while eating out.

Get two Chipotle tacos for the price of one

"Order tacos but request an extra soft tortilla to be put on the bottom (as a liner almost) as well. You finish your tacos, and boom: extra taco made up of the liner tortilla and the bits and pieces that fell out."—Matt, current employee in Chipotle's training division

If you have a big order, order online

It’s frustrating enough for employees to make eight items for one person, but it’s even worse when the customer remembers another meal they need at the last minute. Save everyone some time and make big orders online.

Some locations have a drive-thru window 

Well, sort of. You can place an order on the Chipotle app or website and schedule a time to pick it up at a "digital pick up window." Right now, these windows are only available at the locations in Alamo Ranch, Texas, Pickerington, Ohio, and Obetz, Ohio. It's not your typical drive-thru scenario, but it's convenient for getting grub on the go.

Game changer: Sides can be free

Although ordering something “on the side” should technically be charged as a side (about $1.25), each former employee we talked to said most locations will give sides of ingredients for free. This does not include meat, guacamole, and queso. Ordering a side is technically different from getting extra of an ingredient. “However, if you order sour cream on your bowl and then get some on the side, it's the same as just asking for extra sour cream on your meal to begin with,” Stephanie says.

Please don’t ask us to mix up the ingredients

“We can also mix up the contents of your burrito so you get a little of everything in each bite—but it is a HUGE employee pet peeve. When customers ask us to mix up the burrito, we would have to stop what we're doing, grab a spoon, hand mix the contents of their burrito to an unsightly mushy mess, and then wrap it. Especially with a huge line of people, this is a huge inconvenience, and it's rather disgusting for other customers to see, because the 'guts' of a burrito once they've been mixed up like that are never a pretty sight.”—Gianna, former Chipotle employee in Rhode Island

Here are the things McDonald’s employees will never tell you.

Sometimes, you can get your meal for free

“For us to “manager comp” a customer (making their meal free) we usually assess the situation as it happens. By that I mean, if a customer was waiting for five or more minutes on fajitas to cook, we would most likely comp their meal for the inconvenience. If a customer had an issue with an online order, we would take their name down for a free meal on us the next time they came in.”—Stephanie, former Chipotle employee for three and a half years

It pays to be nice to us—literally

“My personal favorite was when we had our regular customers who were genuine or personable. We would occasionally comp their meals for being so loyal to our store and as a token of our appreciation.”—Stephanie, former Chipotle employee for three and a half years

Don’t miss these 33 things your fast food worker isn’t telling you.

An employee prepares a burrito at a Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. restaurant in Tempe, Arizona, U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is scheduled to release earnings figures on October 24. Photographer: Caitlin O'Hara/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Facade with signage at a local franchise of the Chipotle chain of Mexican restaurants, Dublin, California, July 10, 2017. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
Chipotle Mexican Grill is seen in uptown Washington, February 8, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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However, instead of ordering at the window, customers need to order ahead via the Chipotle app or an online form. 

Yelp photos of the San Antonio, Texas location with the drive-thru show a screen that says, "Picking up an online or app order?"

Customers are instructed to drive "straight ahead to burrito bliss." 

"When I went there was no line for the drive-thru," one five-star review from February reads. "I think word still needs to get out about it. It's a very unique concept, they have two kitchens/prepping areas."

Chipotle is working to build out its off-premise business with more drive-thru, to-go, and delivery sales. 

Most Chipotle locations have a "second line" dedicated to making burritos, bowls, and more for customers other than those who are ordering in the restaurants, such as for mobile orders and catering.

"One of the first things I uncovered was the second make line," Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol told Business Insider earlier in May. "I was just like, this is a huge ... capability that we have not been taking full advantage of."

Investors have been eager for Niccol to bring some changes to the struggling chain amid rumors of new menu tests and a revamped queso recipe. 

Niccol, previously the CEO of Taco Bell, stepped into the role of Chipotle's CEO in March. Taco Bell experienced a period of impressive growth under Niccol's leadership, as the CEO pushed for creative marketing and wild new menu items such as the Naked Chicken Chalupa.

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SEE ALSO: Chipotle is banking on breakfast and drive-thrus to turn around the chain, according to billionaire investor Bill Ackman

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