To make room for more lanes and edge transportation areas, fast food chains are rethinking the concept of a modern restaurant with new design prototypes. And in particular, it seems that one element occupies less and less real estate in a modern fast food restaurant – dining room.
As chains continue to reveal their future restaurant designs, many of them are reducing the size of their dining rooms, and in some cases, getting rid of them altogether. Here are some of the biggest chains that are leading the way in switching to restaurants outside the bar.
Panera has just opened its first “next generation” restaurant. in Missouri last week, and in addition to dual lanes and new digital features, its dining room has also been renovated. First, the new location and each future Panera store will have dining rooms that are about five times smaller than the ones you’re used to. However, the chain will become cozy and will put its bread ovens on display to amaze customers.
Burger King’s “restaurant of the future,” a prototype set to launch this year, will feature several innovations: a huge drive, food cabinets, conveyor belts, and in some cases. . . outdoor dining rooms. While some new chain designs include smaller dining rooms located directly on the lanes, others completely abandon the traditional interior and instead include just a shady terrace for dining on site.
Portillo’s, a popular Chicago-based brand, is as famous for its iconic hot dogs as it is for its large dining rooms. But the future is very different for the chain and its customers. According to CEO Michael Osanloo, Portillo’s is betting on off-premises sales as the main source of traffic, and its new locations will reflect that strategy.
Not only is Portillo reducing the size of its dining rooms, but it will soon be testing a prototype location without a dining room. The first takeover unit only will open in Joliet, Ill. this winter and will have three lanes instead.
IHOP may be the main chain of restaurants, but the brand is expanding with a turnoff that is on the way that is more convenient to eat. Turned IHOP it serves an iconic menu for breakfast and lunch from IHOP, but in portable packaging and has much smaller locations with limited dining areas.
Part of Taco’s idea of a restaurant after the pandemic was named Fresh Flex – a new design that offers potential operators a range of store sizes. Some of these options include small, driving-only locations with no dining areas.
McDonald’s said last year that it’s also about driving efficiency through exploring the model of an express restaurant, which would give up dining and focus on driving, pick-up and delivery services.
KFC announced last year that it intends to slowly abandon its current restaurant design (dubbed the “American Showman”) for one that puts less emphasis on dining. It has introduced two new designs that will drastically reduce its traditional dining areas – one focused on driving through expansion in suburban areas and one with less capacity for restaurants for urban areas where real estate is expensive.
In addition to adding its Chipotlanes across America (its proprietary drive-thru on steroids), Chipotle has also opened the first restaurant to be digital only last year in the state of New York. The location does not have a dining room and its employees cannot accept orders in the store. Instead, customers must place orders through the mobile app or the chain’s collection or delivery website. You can expect this Chipotle layout to spread across the country in the coming years.