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Quick Service Restaurant Design Changes: Inspired by the Pandemic & Convenience Trends

Quick service restaurants are making and proposing a lot of changes to their facilities in the coming year. While some of these were already in development before the pandemic as a response to changing consumer preferences for on-the-go consumption, the pandemic lead to expedited time lines for the changes:

  • Multiple Drive-Thru Lanes – Drive-thru is a well-established method of reducing contact between staff and customers and its use has increased dramatically since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Designated Parking Spots for Curb-Side Pickup – The increasing use of ordering via app draws not only those who are interested in contactless transactions but also those who want to be sure their experience will be frictionless and their food will be ready when they arrive.
  • Walk-Up Windows – With indoor dining limited, walk-up windows allows foot traffic and those who want to eat on-site to have a convenient way to order.
  • Pickup Lock Boxes – These contactless options – often opened with a QR code within the app – are intended for delivery drivers from Grubhub and other third-parties as well as individual customers
  • Pickup Lanes/Windows Dedicated to Delivery Drivers – As app-based third-party delivery services proliferate and the base of customers looking to save time and limit outings increases, more restaurants will design a service option specifically for these drivers.
  • Outdoor Dining – As more consumers feel safer dining in the fresh air, restaurants will look to add not just tables and benches, but pergolas or other protection from the weather and hedges or plexiglass dividers between tables to encourage social distancing.
  • Designated Parking Spots for Car-Hop Style Ordering – Sonic highlights group in-car dining in its advertisements, a trend that is likely to continue as people look for ways to share meals that protects their personal space.
  • Self-Serve Kiosks – Automated kiosks are another option for reducing face-to-face contact between staff and customers; they’re not new, but they are getting a second look.

To the extent that any of these design innovations spread to restaurants that previously had more extensive sit-down and dine-in business, this would also result in an increased use of foodservice single-use packaging items such as clamshells, bowls, cups, lids, and bags for away-from-restaurant consumption.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research including a variety of packaging industry topics, including Global Foodservice Single-Use Products, COVID-19 Economic Impact Report: Retail Bags,Global Single-Use Plastic Packaging Regulations,Foodservice Single-Use Products, and Retail Bags, as well as Global Foodservice. Other related titles are available from Packaged Facts’ food- and beverage-related reports, including Food Carryout & Delivery as well as the companion report with timely consumer insights from our in-house survey capabilities. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Covid-19      Food & Beverage