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Chipotle’s new take-out windows.
March 03, 2023

Retail Brew


Happy Friday! If you’ve got the business budget blues, we’ve got the cure. Cue our best-selling one-week Financial Forecasting course. We’re bringing it back this month due to popular demand, and over five days, you’ll have the tools and skills to construct the budget of your dreams. Click here to secure your seat before it’s too late!

In today’s edition:

—Andrew Adam Newman, Erin Cabrey, Max Knoblauch


Pick-up artist

A sign for the Chipotlane window that says "Mobile order pickup ahead." Chipotle

Here’s a tip if you ever find yourself chatting with Tabassum Zalotrawala, Chipotle Mexican Grill’s chief development officer, about the take-out windows they’ve dubbed “Chipotlanes”: Do not call them “drive-thrus.”

Drive-thrus typically refer to the system that dates back to the Packard era, where drivers roll up to a two-way speaker, order from a menu board, and proceed to the window to pay and receive the order.

“If we were talking about drive-thru windows, the conversation would be over because we don’t have any,” Zalotrawala told us at the onset of a recent interview. “All we have is digital pick-up windows.”

Chipotlanes have no speakers or menu boards because their users have ordered and paid online (or through the Chipotle app). It takes an average of fewer than 30 seconds per order, Zalotrawala told Restaurant Dive, compared to a traditional drive-thru at Taco Bell, with an average service time of 221.99 seconds—the industry’s fastest in 2022 per QSR magazine—or Chick-fil-A, the slowest at 325.47 seconds.

More and more restaurants are trying to entice consumers to choose pickup—not that it takes much arm-twisting. For inflation-bedraggled consumers, picking up saves on delivery fees and tips, and they get their food faster and hotter than from a delivery driver. And for restaurants, pick-up saves the expense of third-party delivery providers.

Guac before you run: Chipotle began testing the Chipotlane concept at a few locations in May 2018, adding several more in 2019, Zalotrawala said.

It caught on fast.

“It took us opening not even like, a handful of restaurants in 2019 to realize that, ‘Oh my gosh, this truly is a game changer,’” Zalotrawala said. Sales at Chipotlane restaurants average 10% to 15% higher than at restaurants without the lanes, according to Zalotrawala.

Keep reading here.—AAN



A reason to stay


Need help keeping the spark alive? Sure, your customers have a million places to shop. But you can build customer relationships that stand the test of time—and Bolt can help.

Created in partnership with YouGov, Bolt’s How To Create Lifetime Customers analyzes the nitty-gritty shopper behaviors, teasing out crucial details about online shopping patterns and how brands can build and sustain loyalty.

Want a sneak peek? It turns out that discounts attract: 63% of customers say being offered a discount code will help them complete a purchase, even when they weren’t fully committed to the purchase beforehand.

With Bolt, customers stay logged in throughout their shopping journey, giving you the insights you need to turn checkout ghosters into customers for life.

Check out the full report here.


Ready to pop

Pop Up Grocer storefront with products on shelves visible through window. Ori Harpaz

Those used to shopping in standard grocery stores filled with conveyor belts and long aisles may realize they’re not in Kansas Kroger anymore when they step into Pop Up Grocer. The store has swapped out muted tones for pops of color and checkerboard tiling, generic category names for terms like “Breakfast-ish,” and heritage brands for up-and-coming Instagram CPG favorites.

After nearly three years of short-term stays across the country, Pop Up Grocer is finally ready to do things slightly more like a traditional retailer by settling down in a permanent location in New York City.

The traveling grocer, founded by CPG branding expert and Chobani alum Emily Schildt, first popped up in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood in 2019. The pop-up’s goal was to create a destination for shoppers, influencers, and even retail buyers to discover emerging CPG brands that follow three criteria: being new and interesting, responsibly made, and visibly appealing. It eventually headed to cities like Austin, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles before returning to its hometown to put down roots in Greenwich Village, with a store opening March 3.

“Having done this for three years now, in more or less the same format, I’m really itching to do something different…to reach more people, to provide more exposure and visibility to our brands, maybe eventually taking some shelf space away from some of the bigger guys and bigger retailers,” Schidlt said.

Setting up shop: If you ask Schidlt why now was the right time for this move, she’ll tell you, actually, it’s not, given the ongoing pandemic and an impending recession. “I thought the right time was almost two years ago now when I started my search,” she admitted.

Keep reading here.—EC



Whiskey and you

Jack Daniel's whiskey SOPA Images/Getty Images

“An out-of-control, soot-like whiskey fungus is spreading in Tennessee and causing a rift between residents and famed whiskey-maker Jack Daniel’s,” write’s Morning Brew’s Max Knoblauch:

For months, residents of a rural Tennessee county where Jack Daniel’s has six barrelhouses (and plans to build up to 20) have complained that the fungus coats basically all outdoor surfaces.
Studies have shown that the fungus isn’t hazardous to humans…but residents are nonetheless peeved with Jack Daniel’s over its spread, filing a lawsuit that’s ultimately forced the company to stop construction on a new barrelhouse.

Read the whole story here on Morning Brew.




Times are a-changin’: Gather ’round, online merchants—2023’s market looks a lot different than last year’s. Shippo’s 2023 State of Shipping Report takes a deep dive into everything you need to know about building a resilient business and turning first-time buyers into loyal customers. Get the report here.


Today’s top retail reads.

More to come: Beauty brands are accelerating their investment in men’s skin care, pushing guys to go beyond the moisturizer in their daily routines. (Thingtesting)

That’s enough: From Tesco to Asda, supermarket chains in the UK are capping the sale of certain vegetables as bad weather in Spain creates shortages. (the New York Times)

New ways: Unlike other industries fashion has for years shied away from lobbying, creating a divide between industry leaders and policymakers. But things may be changing. (Vogue Business)

Unbeatable brands: Last year we saw post-pandemic shopping booms give way to historic inflation. Now’s white paper explores how 10 brands created opportunities in an uncertain market and developed winning strategies for 2023.*

*This is sponsored advertising content.

Dine with retail pros in the Big

Dine with retail pros in the Big

Want to take your relationship with Retail Brew to the next level? Throughout the year, we will gather fellow retail leaders for discussion and dinner in NYC.

Apply now for a chance to partake in an evening of conversation about the most pressing issues retailers face today—oh, and some great food .

Apply here.


  • Walmart will open 28 new healthcare centers across the country next year.
  • Nordstrom’s annual revenue forecast fared below expectations as high inflation kept consumer discretionary spending down.
  • Macy’s and Best Buy saw sales dip as consumers remained cash-strapped due to inflation.
  • Victoria’s Secret Q4 profits surpassed estimates as it logged $2 billion in sales.


Three of the stories below are real...and one is most definitely not. Can you spot the fake?

  1. KFC is launching a Michelin-star restaurant in Kentucky that will only serve high-end chicken.
  2. A business-class airline passenger was served a single banana as his vegan meal.
  3. Willie Nelson is inviting guests to have dinner with him on his Texas ranch.
  4. A German ice cream shop is selling cricket-flavored ice cream that comes topped with dead crickets.

Keep reading for the answer.


Last we heard, they weren’t handing out Michelin stars to fast food chains, but, you know, never say never.


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Written by Andrew Adam Newman, Erin Cabrey, and Max Knoblauch

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