Society for Case Research MBAA 2023

Experience level: 
Intended Audience: 
Dr. Soni Simpson

Chipotle: Resiliency through Digital Innovation

The SARS-CoV-2 (“COVID”) pandemic critically impacted the restaurant industry, beginning in March 2020. State and local shelter-in-place mandates forbade customers from eating inside any establishment. This led to the widespread use of pre-ordering food for curbside pickup for business that did not already have an established drive-through. As a fast-casual establishment, Chipotle did not have a drive-through. Chipotle did, however, already have a mobile app, a digital strategy and plans to create Chipotlanes, drivethrough lanes for pickup orders only. Chipotle’s app updates and decision to begin the Chipotlane rollout was fortuitous in timing. This critical incident explores the relationship between innovation strategy and internal and external forces impacting an organization.