New Chipotle, Starbuck Restaurants Serve Up Contactless Experience

COVID-19 restrictions have left food businesses scrambling to find sanitary alternatives

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A newly designed Chipotle restaurant like this one in New York creates a more germ-free environment for customers. (Image source: CNN)

The coronavirus has been devastating for many businesses, resulting in massive layoffs. It’s estimated that 100,000 restaurants have closed just in the last six months. 

COVID-19 has caused businesses and restaurants to adapt to being contact free and safer for customers. For example, many restaurants have started a takeout system and have closed their seating areas. Starbucks and Chipotle took a different route and made contact free restaurants in New York. They both have similar layouts. The kitchen is in the back, and the front room is a mostly empty room with shelves for takeout. There are no tables because they want almost zero contact and want to keep the line flowing. If you want to visit the stores you have to download the app beforehand and order online.

Starbucks’ new store is around 1,000 square feet. Normally a Starbucks cafe is around 1,800 square feet. Both of the stores are downsizing massively. As a result, Chipotle says if this new cafe is successful, they can open up the same design in many other locations because of its size.

There are no tables because they want almost zero contact and want to keep the line flowing. If you want to visit the stores you have to download the app beforehand and order online.”

— Mia Intagliata, KNWeb Reporter

According to CNN, both Chipotle and Starbucks stores are designed around “convenience, comfort and connection.” The restaurants are designed to be predictable and effortless for customers that have busy lives and don’t have time to wait. Although many restaurants have a pick up option, in these locations the pick up orders are their main focus; so it will be a lot faster to prepare and complete the orders. They also think it will be very COVID friendly because of the limited seating, online orders, and a limited number of people in the restaurant. 

It is possible the new stores will help decrease the spread of COVID, but they could also be useful in the future if there’s ever another pandemic or for people with busier lifestyles. They could change the face of stores forever. The new Starbucks store is designed to be brighter and more modern than the classic cozy Starbucks design. Both stores are also experimenting with the layout by having the kitchen blocked off rather than open to the customers’ view. They hope the new layout helps form a flow of customers and leaves less people lingering.

The small size of the new stores will help the cities put in more residential lots/apartments and different stores. It will also help the company save money because in cities like New York, the rent is very high. Multiple smaller contact-free stores can be opened rather than one large store.