Fast Food Chain Responding to Changing Needs Due to Pandemic

As businesses continue to pivot and adjust to the changing times, fast food chains are responding as well. As reported by Building Design + Construction, Restaurant Brands International (RBI) will begin to roll out new designs for its Burger King chain that are only two fifths the physical footprint of its traditional fast-food restaurant to provide customers with different ways food can be ordered and delivered with an emphasis on mobile ordering and drive-thru.

In a prepared statement released last week, Restaurant Brands said that its new store blueprint would emphasize six elements:

• A double or triple drive-thru with digital menu boards and advertising. An external walk-up window on a glass façade is an alternative ordering point.

• Guests can park their cars in a drive-in area under a solar-paneled canopy, place orders by using the BK App or scanning a QR code, and have their food delivered to the vehicles.

• Customers can use a mobile app to place advance orders, for which the stores have dedicated parking slots for curbside delivery. The app also notifies employees when the customer arrives.

• Mobile and delivery orders can also be picked up from coded food lockers positioned at the store’s exterior. The food will be delivered straight from the kitchen.

• The restaurants will continue to offer on-premises dining. But one design option replaces the indoor dining room with a shaded patio and outdoor seating.

• One design features a kitchen and dining area that’s suspended above the drive-thru lanes, another gesture toward reducing the store’s footprint. Drive-thru guests would have their orders delivered from the kitchen via conveyor belt, with each lane having its own pickup spot. There is also an indoor seating area, designed for an almost 100% touchless experience.

Burger King is one of several fast-food chains—including Starbucks, Taco Bell, and Shake Shack—that are responding with new designs to changing guest patterns as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The research firm NPD Group estimates that visits to drive-thrus jumped by 26% in April, May, and June. The first new designed restaurants will be built in Miami (Restaurant Brands’ headquarters city), Latin America, and the Caribbean islands. Restaurant Brands did not disclose when the new designs would be extended to other cities in the U.S. Burger King has 18,756 locations in more than 100 countries, nearly all of which are independently owned franchises.