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Future Designs for Fast Food Restaurants in 2021

As contactless delivery becomes more of a requirement for businesses to stay open, restaurants are going back to the drawing board.

Quick service restaurants (QSRs) are investing in new ways to serve their customers. They are being forced to figure out how to re-configure the layout of their stores to ensure customers feel safe, and they can continue to increase revenue even in the midst of a pandemic.

Between dining room restrictions and less on-site visitors, restaurants are getting creative with their real estate footprints. Whether they’re deciding how to the lay the building’s Symons forms or which technology they’ll embed in their mobile ordering apps, owners are having to rethink everything in light of the current situation.

Smart Drive-Thrus

Taco Bell has come up with a concept that takes up less real estate but offers a safe, more effective way to dine.

This chain’s new layout will be half the size of their stores today, with smaller dining rooms, but more efficient drive thrus. It will have the classic drive-thru option but will add a priority pick up lane as well for mobile orders.

Artificial intelligence plays a crucial role in the jobsite and is now also incorporated in the kitchen. Artificial intelligence will be notified when a customer has arrived, and then tell them where exactly they should park or drive to get their food. The technology will make recommendations to the user based on parking lot availability and current traffic outside the store.

Burger King will be following suit when it comes to smart drive thru technology. In a dedicated drive-thru lane, customers will pull up under a solar-powered canopy, scan a QR code to place their order, and their food will be dropped off at their car. They have also pitched the idea of coded lockers for customers to pick up their mobile order.

Pop-Up Drive Thrus

Another chain leading the way in industry-leading restaurant design is Shake Shack. They’ve created pop-up drive thrus, similar to a Sonic-style drive up. This technology allows multiple customers to order at once. The company claims it will likely add this model to seven to nine stores in the coming months.

To date, Shake Shack has not had any drive thrus, so this business model is a new concept for the company. However, the CEO stated that they are going to open at least one drive-thru/dine-in combo option by the end of 2021.

A Suspended Kitchen

To make better use of the square feet available, Burger King has proposed a two-story drive through concept. The kitchen will be on the second story, while customers drive through and receive their food directly under it.

Burger King is also making efforts to offer more outdoor dining options, dedicated walk-up and drive-up zones, as well as double- and triple-lane drive thrus. All of these concepts are to help the customer have a better, more efficient experience.

These exciting features are going to be rolled out in stores that are 60% smaller than the average store today, with the goal being 100% touchless.

Completely Digital

In New York, Chipotle opened its first completely digital storefront. With no dining room seating or an area to place an order, guests are required to place a mobile order. This digital-only format is perfect for urban locations.

The restaurant’s cleverly named “Chipotlanes” are pick up lanes for mobile order customers. To date, it has built 128 of these Chipotlanes, and it is also testing the concept of pick-up windows.

It’s no secret that businesses are adapting their processes to better accommodate their guests. But as new restaurants are being built, they are having to think from the ground up – literally – to be forward thinking. If you’re starting new construction, Contact Forming America for all of your concrete shoring and forming requests.

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