Guac on the go: New drive-through Chipotle coming to old Macaroni Grill site in Wheaton

  • AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, FileChipotle Mexican Grill is expected to open a drive-through in Wheaton.

    AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, FileChipotle Mexican Grill is expected to open a drive-through in Wheaton.

 
 
Updated 6/8/2021 3:40 PM

Chipotle fans in Wheaton will be able to skip the burrito assembly line and pick up their orders without ever leaving their cars.

The fast-casual chain plans to move its Wheaton location from a Butterfield Road strip mall to a new building with a drive-through.

 

More than five years after it was damaged by fire, the former Romano's Macaroni Grill is set to be demolished and replaced by Chipotle as part of a redevelopment of the prime property near the city's Danada shopping district.

Unlike a traditional drive-up window, customers lining up in the "Chipotlane" won't place their orders through a menu board. Instead, the drive-through will be reserved for pickup of online orders only.

Customers still have the option of ordering in-person at the counter inside.

Chipotle has expanded the concept since introducing drive-thrus about two years ago. An Elgin location that opened in 2019 was, at the time, only the fifth in the state with a Chipotlane.

Currently, there are more than 170 Chipotlanes in the country, a Chipotle spokesman said. The company expects that 70% of new Chipotle restaurants that open this year will include a Chipotlane.

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In Wheaton, Chipotle is anticipated to make the move to the new space in mid-2022, according to developer Steve Panko.

Chicago-based Key Development Partners has secured zoning approvals from the city for the mixed-use project at the southwest corner of Naperville Road and Blanchard Circle.

"This is a very attractive project for the community," Mayor Phil Suess said. " ... This puts back in use a piece of property that's been vacant for a number of years."

Developers plan to tear down the vacant Macaroni Grill to make way for two commercial buildings on the nearly 2.5-acre property.

The first will contain 5,900 square feet. Chipotle will occupy 2,400 square feet, with the remaining space envisioned for a yet-to-be-announced retail tenant. The drive-through will run along the west side of the building.

In a city hearing before the planning and zoning board, Panko indicated the average drive-through wait would take a minute or less.

The second building is expected to house a 10,500-square-foot day-care center operated by a national franchise, staff planner Tracy Jones said. The nine-classroom facility will be built on the northwest corner of the site.

The property is under contract to be sold to KDP Acquisitions, LLC. Property tax bills are now addressed to Wheaton homebuilder Joseph Keim and Helen Keim.

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