Restaurants Undergo Massive COVID-Era Redesign
Restaurants Undergo Massive COVID-Era Redesign

McDonald’s and other quick-service restaurants (QSRs) have had to rethink their business models in the pandemic’s wake.

The typical Hollywood portrayal of the fast-food drive-thru experience includes an unintelligible conversation with a clerk, made worse by a lousy speaker system and an outdated menu that’s missing letters or lights. But nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to the post-pandemic drive-thru of the future.

Multiple quick-service restaurants (QSRs) unveiled sweeping plans in the fourth quarter alone to update their sites and reflect today’s lifestyle changes, which skew toward takeout and touchless offerings and away from traditional sit-down dining rooms. Some of the QSR industry’s largest and most-savvy businesses are betting big that changes brought about by the coronavirus aren’t passing fads, but lasting trends that are here to stay.

McDonald’s And The 3 D’s

McDonald’s President and CEO Chris Kempczinski said in unveiling the company’s new “Accelerating the Arches” global growth strategy that “in countries around the world, we have seen customer behaviors change at an unprecedented pace over the last several months.”

McDonald’s sees this not as a liability, but as an opportunity. A prominent feature within McDonald’s plan includes an effort to “Double Down on the 3 D’s — Digital, Delivery and Drive-Thru.”

For instance, McDonald’s envisions its future including changes to parking lots to provide more spaces for pickup and delivery orders. It also plans separate, faster drive-thru lanes if you’re retrieving food you’ve already ordered and paid for online versus ordering it for the first time in the drive-thru lane.

Even before the pandemic, McDonald’s was investing in tech with an eye on the future. For instance, it acquired artificial intelligence (AI) firm Dynamic Yield to improve smart menus, and it also bought Apprente, a company that specializes in voice-based ordering systems.

The chain is among several QSRs looking to deliver multichannel ordering, payment and loyalty plans through a single digital app platform.

Have It Your Way

Burger King is another example of a restaurant forced to rethink its entire customer experience amid the pandemic.

The No. 2 hamburger chain rolled out revamp plans in September, with a specific aim of providing an “enhanced guest experience in the COVID world” via five different points of service.

In addition to the customary on-premise, drive-thru and curbside pickup offerings, new Burger King sites will include drive-in service where you can park, order and eat beneath solar-powered canopies. The chain will also offer new pick-up lockers where you can fetch your food from a little cubby by using a special code.

“We designed the interior and exterior spaces like we had a blank sheet of paper, designing without preconceived notions of how a Burger King restaurant should look,” said Rapha Abreu, global head of Design at BK-parent Restaurant Brands International.

Abreu called the resulting “restaurant of the tomorrow” a functional merger of technology and design that will elevate the guest experience.

Way Beyond Burgers

The current redesign trend goes well beyond the big burger chains.

For example, Yum Brands’ huge QSR stable of Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut is also going through a similar metamorphosis that focuses on how the food is ordered and delivered rather than on the food itself.

Meanwhile, Dave Boennighausen, CEO of Noodles & Company, a fast-casual chain of more than 450 stores, told Karen Webster that his company is rolling out smaller stores that include drive-thrus and better use of the in-house app rather than relying on third-party aggregators.

In addition, burrito titan Chipotle opened its first digital-only store in November, with no dining room and no service-line workers to custom-make your meal before your eyes. Instead, guests use the Chipotle Digital Kitchen to order and pay in advance and pick up their food at the site.

Top-Performing Restaurants Offer Pickup And Drive-Thru

Such shifts toward mobility and increased digital ordering are among the findings revealed last week in the new Restaurant Readiness Index, produced by PYMNTS and Paytronix.

Aside from digital and touchless convenience, the survey of over 2,100 consumers and nearly 500 restaurant operators showed that the ability to pick up orders at a drive-thru was available in 56 percent of top performing restaurants. That makes it a feature that allows them to stand apart from their competitors.

The PYMNTS survey also found that 30.5 percent of consumers said they were more likely to make a purchase if a restaurant offered a drive-thru. That trails only loyalty, online ordering and payment functionality and the ability to pick up orders without standing in line in terms of importance.


Read More On Restaurant Innovation:

Source Article