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Monday, Oct 2, 2023

Chipotle’s Burritos Enter Virtual Reality

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.—which has become Orange County’s third-largest public company by making millions of tasty burritos—is now offering customers the chance to make them virtually.

The Newport Beach franchise chain (NYSE: CMG) has released a simulated burrito-making experience on the digital platform Roblox.

It becomes the first national restaurant brand to serve virtual food on Roblox.

Titled Chipotle Burrito Builder, the simulation allows players to make or “roll” burritos in the metaverse and earn in-game currency known as Burrito Bucks. The promotion started on April 7, National Burrito Day, and a certain number of burrito bucks could earn players an entrée code for an actual burrito that can be eaten in the real world.

“We’re blending the metaverse and real-world elements of our brand to take the Chipotle fan experience to a whole new level,” Chief Marketing Officer Chris Brandt said in a statement.

The company said the game was inspired by Chipotle fans on social media. The layout of the first Chipotle restaurant in Denver was used for the Roblox store, which opened in 1993 inspiring the ’90s theme of the game.

San Mateo-based Roblox Corp. (NYSE: RBLX) currently has a $26.3 billion market cap with $1.9 billion in 2021 sales. The website has 49.5 million daily users, up 33% year over year.

Chipotle, with a $45 billion market cap, has 100,000 employees working at more than 3,000 stores. It had $7.5 billion in sales last year, and is scheduled to release first-quarter financial results on April 26.

Digital Strides

In recent years, Chipotle has emphasized technology to increase sales. It boomed during the pandemic because its ordering app for smartphones was far ahead of its competitors. Since the app’s debut in 2017, it now serves 27 million rewards members.

“We were uniquely positioned to handle the shift in consumer behavior during the pandemic. The foundation of our digital business was built to scale and already had many of the capabilities necessary to handle the rapid growth and behavior shifts,” VP of Digital Strategy and Product Nicole West told the Business Journal via email.

The chain has combined physical and digital presence so that its drive-thru concept, the Chipotlane, often results in customers waiting less than a minute in their vehicles for their orders, much faster than minutes for other fast-food chains.

Among recent innovations are “Chippy,” a robot to make chips, and using radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to trace ingredients from its food suppliers in its Chicago operations.

“We are always searching for innovations that enhance our employee and guest experience,” West said. “Supporting our digital growth requires innovation and amplified technology to drive productivity.” 

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