Industry Trends

The Next Big Thing in Fast Food: Drive Thru Only

2 min read

“Chipotle doesn’t want you to order at its newest restaurant”

Yeah, we were pretty confused, too, when we read that headline from CNN Business’s Jordan Valinsky. The article, which talks about Chipotle’s new location in Ohio that has eliminated the dining room and in-person ordering in favor of the drive-thru and walk-up window, was just as surprising. Until we read the stats that back up this new concept:

“…[L]ocations featuring a Chipotlane have ‘approximately 15% higher sales compared to non-Chipotlanes opened during the same period.[i]

Well, if you didn’t have our attention, you certainly do now.

And Chipotle isn’t the only company focusing more on take-out and drive-thru than sit-in eating. Taco Bell is building restaurant prototypes in Minneapolis that focus on four drive-thru lanes – all of them under the restaurant. McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A have been using multiple drive-thru lanes for years, but this is next level.

Even full-service restaurants are jumping on the drive-thru bandwagon: Famous Dave’s is planning on using one in one of its new formats, and Golden Corral is also experimenting with a version. [ii]

More drive-thru and pick-up lanes make plenty of sense to us, but what about drive-thru-only formats? Well, that seems to check out as well. Of course, Covid-19, which closed down indoor dining everywhere, plays a part in this. There is less face-to-face contact during the ordering process. But the overall trend most restaurants are seeing is less fast food sales being consumed on-site, so minimizing or removing dining room space in favor of extra drive-thru lanes or walk-up ordering also makes sense.

What about the bottle-neck issue that most drive-thru’s deal with – merging lanes to actually pay and pick up the order? Well, McDonald’s and Burger King are working on an answer for that, too: conveyor belts. And that new Taco Bell format in Minneapolis will be using a lift system to send food directly to customers in the drive-thru below the building.

Talk about a lot of changes. And they all sound good. But every one of these concepts requires a lot of installation, retrofitting, and maintenance. That’s where Rogers comes in. We’ve been around the block quite a few times with some of the biggest names in the restaurant game. With more than 1500 employees and 12 offices nationwide, we are the largest self-performing electrical, data, and lighting contractor in the US.

Ready to team up? Have a couple of questions for us? Click here to contact us, and together we’ll get the job done!

For more info on drive-thru trends in the restaurant business, check out these articles:

Have questions? Not sure where we can help? Contact us – we’ll figure it out together!