Starbucks has hundreds of busy employees walking around car lanes taking orders with handheld devices so customers can get a quick caffeine correction in seconds. Shake Shack, who has long stressed that quality ingredients are worth the wait for a few more minutes, will soon be showing its first window. And this year, the vast majority of new Chipotles will have Chipotlanes, where customers can drive to the window and spend less than a minute on pre-ordered meals.
During the epidemic, due to the restrictions on dining rooms in most parts of the country, driving windows became a means of keeping various restaurants active.
Now that the food industry is looking to the post-epidemic world, many companies are making big bets that digital տր drive-truss orders will remain an integral part of their success. And the basic practice of sitting in a row of cars, sometimes talking in a variegated intercom, “pulling out the window” before driving is going to change dramatically for the first time in decades.
A number of restaurants are moving fast to improve their online order և app capabilities, change their physical layout, or add two or three highways. Some experiment with artificial intelligence systems to accommodate individual offers that go into the menu board.
“The guide was one of those places that hasn’t changed in decades,” said Eli Doty, Burger King’s North American market director. “But with COVID we see a sharp acceleration in the directions we were already going.”
Taco Bell, which announced last year that the restaurant would design a stadium seat to allow players to play against each other, shifted most of its focus to creating smaller restaurants with two-way lanes and curbs. Applebee’s is testing its first disc drive in Teharkana, Texas. Shake Shack is testing a number of new designs և applications, including windows և curbs. It will launch its first engine in Orlando, Florida this year, with plans for “five to eight” by 2022.
“We started working on some measurements even before the epidemic,” said Andrew McCown, Shake Shack Development Director. “But we saw a huge accelerator, a catalyst, to move faster, to actually move.”
Although several chains have claimed to have invented the drive, many say it dates back to the 1930s, when the Texas network’s Pig Stand franchise in Los Angeles allowed customers to order their food out the window. In the late 1940s, the California network In-N-Out Burger introduced the double-sided disc box. But the phenomenon really began in the 1970s, when McDonald’s installed a drive-truss.
As more families had two working parents, the demand for fast և easy food increased, drive-truss became the mainstay. But they became a source of ridicule and joy. In Wayne’s World 2 in 1993, the characters Garth and Wayne deliberately cut their voices, giving their orders, offering a broken intercom. The server perfectly repeats the order.
Indeed, the drive can be stressful. Other customers sometimes come in to encourage you to speed up your order. After shouting “No pickles” a few times in the intercom, sometimes you still get a burger with three pickles on it. And the lines can stretch through parking lots և down the street, especially when using a pandemic. Chick-fil-A has been sued by neighboring companies, which say its long lines prevent its customers from entering.
For most restaurants, the solution has many parts. First, they try to encourage customers to order apps that improve order accuracy և are often linked to loyalty programs that give them points for free food. They are also trying to figure out how best to speed up consumers by driving or picking up cars without disrupting traffic or other businesses.
According to Bluedot, a geolocation company, drive an average of four times in 15 seconds. Like the Daytona 500 pit crew, restaurants are always on the lookout for ways to shave in minutes or even seconds.
To be competitive in this race, Chipotle, whose digital orders grew from 20% to 70% of the epidemic, installed a second assembly line in many of its kitchens, where employees collected tacos or burrito bowls exclusively for mobile և online orders.
The chain also expects that 70% of its restaurants opening this year will have dedicated Chipotlanes online orders.
“According to traditional practice, you wait in line for an order, you wait in line to pay or take, you wait in line when the meal is ready,” said Jack E. Hartung, Chipotle CEO. “We try to get our service time from him when you stand in a restaurant, take your food, drive for 40 or 50 seconds.”
Others, such as McDonald’s և Burger King, add many highways that feature fast-food fast food outlets such as Chick-fil-A but are becoming more common. Burger King conducts three-line tests in the United States, Brazil and Spain. In the US և In Spain, the third zone is “fast” for pre-orders through the app. In Brazil, the belt takes delivery drivers to the pickup area with food cabinets or shelves.
Burger King also wants to push its windpipe into the future with its Big-Brother-like AI system, Deep Flame.
Right now, about half of Burger King’s motivation with digital boards uses Deep Flame technology to offer foods that are especially popular in the area that day. It also uses external factors, such as weather, to separate items such as iced coffee for a hot day.
But this year, Burger King is testing Bluetooth technology that can identify Burger King loyalty customers and show them their previous orders. If the customer ordered a little Sprite և Whopper cheese, keep the pickles, the last three visits, Deep Flame will calculate that there is a high probability that the customer will want the same order again.
It is unclear whether this technology pays off. McDonald’s is moving in the same direction. The fast food giant acquired the Israeli firm AI Dynamic Yield in 2019 with the aim of boosting sales by providing personalized digital ads to customers.
Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Burger King, Tim Hortons և Popeyes, hopes to have predictable personalized systems in its more than 10,000 North American restaurant locations by mid-2022.
“We’re taking what used to be an old-fashioned, static sales wave to the forefront of the industry,” said Duncan Fulton, CEO of Restaurant Brands International. Customers can now “have the ability to automatically rearrange items on the board, pay for items, which ultimately speeds up window time by allowing you to collect your food and continue on your way.”