April 22, 2021 at 12:00PM

Chipotle Mexican Grill reported first-quarter 2021 earnings that soared past forecasts, with year-over-year digital orders up 133.9 percent to $869.8 million and now accounting for 50.1 percent of all sales. This is the first time the Southern California chain had more digital orders than in-restaurant sales.

Brian Niccol, Chairman and CEO, Chipotle, said in a press release that the company is starting off 2021 strong and poised for growth. He said the chain will continue to expand its digital landscape and will “remain focused on innovating in culinary, leading in food with integrity.” 

Chipotle reported first-quarter net income of $127.1 million or $4.45 per diluted share, up from $76.4 million or $2.70 per diluted share. Excluding the impact of restructuring and COVID-19-related modifications, adjusted net income was $153.1 million, and adjusted diluted earnings per share were $5.36.

The company now has 2,803 restaurants after opening 40 new locations in the first quarter of 2020 and closing five. A Chipotlane for digital order pick-up was included in 26 of the 40 new restaurants. More than 100 locations now have a Chipotlelane.

The Mexican food chain also introduced two new menu items during the quarter — cauliflower rice and quesadillas. As a way to attract more people to digital ordering, Chipotle added quesadillas exclusively through the restaurant’s app and its website.  

Niccol said on a call with analysts that quesadillas represent the “first new customizable entrée in 17 years” and the “most requested item by guests not on our existing menu.” 

Chipotle also announced an increase in prices for third-party aggregators and invested in autonomous delivery company Nuro. The Nuro investment was part of Chipotle’s Series C funding round in March. The investment marks the first major investment in a third-party tech company since Brian Niccol became chairman and CEO in 2018.

Digital Chipotle Orders Now Account For 50 Pct Of All Sales  …

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