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Chipotle is opening its first ‘digital-only’ restaurant. Here’s what that means

The new Chipotle Digital Kitchen won’t have a dining room and will serve online orders only.

A Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant is pictured on Tuesday Dec. 15, 2015, in Seattle. Chipotle is working to implement new food safety protocols with employees after an E. coli outbreak sickened 50 people in the Northwest. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
A Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant is pictured on Tuesday Dec. 15, 2015, in Seattle. Chipotle is launching a new “digital-only” restaurant in Highland Falls, New York, with plans to open more soon.
Stephen Brashear, Associated Press

Chipotle’s newest restaurant is going to look a little different.

As online sales rise, Chipotle is opening its first digital-only restaurant, the Chipotle Digital Kitchen — with more locations likely to follow, according to USA Today.

Unlike a traditional restaurant, Chipotle Digital Kitchen will not have a dining room or even a line to order, USA Today reported. Instead, customers must order in advance through Chipotle’s website or app and pick up their orders in a lobby.

But the lobby will include an open-facing kitchen, which will try to keep the “sounds, smells and kitchen views of a traditional Chipotle,” according to CNN.

The first Chipotle Digital Kitchen will open in Highland Falls, New York, according to CNBC. Although other locations have not been announced yet, the new design will likely be used in urban areas where real estate is more expensive and it is more difficult to open full-size restaurants.

The digital-only design also comes as Chipotle’s online sales continue to rise.

“With digital sales tripling year over year last quarter, consumers are demanding more digital access than ever before so we’re constantly exploring new ways to enhance the experience for our guests,” Curt Garner, Chipotle’s chief technology officer, said in a statement, according to CNN.

Chipotle is not the first to experiment with the digital-only, or “ghost kitchen,” model. McDonald’s opened a ghost kitchen in London last year, and there are currently around 1,500 ghost kitchens in the U.S., according to The Washington Post. However, that number is expected to climb, with the market for digital-only restaurants potentially being worth $1 trillion by 2030.