How technology is changing restaurant design

How technology is changing restaurant design

Visual Graphics Systems, Inc.

Many restaurants are now integrating the technology into their design prototypes, reflecting the shift in consumer preferences towards digital ordering and offsite dining. As a result, major restaurant chains across the country have unveiled plans for new restaurant prototypes in 2022.

Fast-casual and casual dining brands including Chipotle, Burger King and Shake Shack have redesigned their restaurants, with many similar redesign trends emerging. Most notably, restaurant brands are improving drive-thru, shrinking dining areas, and adding specific pickup areas, both in-store and curbside, for digital orders.

“What restaurants went through during the pandemic is similar to what retail went through when Amazon came to mass prevalence 10 to 12 years ago,” said Andy Schillig, national director of business development. at Studio D & Visual Graphic Systems. “The customer now completely dictates how their journey and interaction with your brand is. They want to order, taste and receive their food where they want, when they want and how they want.

Here’s how some channels are making changes.

Burger King

Burger King unveiled its first brand change in more than 20 years, including more forward-thinking store redesigns. The design focused on easy-to-read signage, new branding and updated menu boards for the increasingly digital age. Burger King’s latest designs have sturdy drive-thrus, food lockers, take-out windows and self-ordering kiosks, like the GRUBBRR-powered Samsung kiosk.

What makes the new Burger King prototype unique is the redesigned exterior and parking lot. In this new model, customers order through the app, drive to a designated parking spot, and have the food delivered to their car. In line with industry trends, the new Burger King restaurants will also be smaller, with one prototype having no on-site dining options and the other only a small dining room and kitchen.

Drive-thru and delivery have been crucial to Burger King’s business during the pandemic, when indoor dining was limited or restricted entirely. In the second quarter, drive-thru sales accounted for 85% of total US sales.

Shake Shack

Like many chains, Shake Shack’s fourth quarter earnings success in 2021 demonstrated an opening of the digital funnel. Shake Shack’s willingness to abandon its traditional business model and embrace technology, including multi-channel delivery, enhanced digital pre-ordering and expanded fulfillment capabilities, has enabled digital sales to grow at a rapid pace.

Shake Shack’s latest innovation, “Shack Track”, is a state-of-the-art restaurant that focuses on pick-up shelves, the window and the sidewalk. “The need to improve and modify the physical restaurant to meet digital needs is so important to Shake Shack that today almost every new restaurant we open has some aspect of Shack Track,” the manager said. Shake Shack financial, Katie Fogertey.

For the channel, the results of adopting the technology have been staggering. In one example, Shake Shack units with self-ordering kiosks saw 75% of sales go through that channel as well as digital. “We have had to and will continue to be strategic with our investments, but most importantly, we will continue to invest in digital initiatives to help bring more guests to our omnichannel,” Fogertey said.


According to the channel’s fourth quarter 2021 earnings report, results for the full year 2021 show digital sales grew 24.7% to $3.4 billion and accounted for 45.6 % of total sales. In other words, about half of all orders at Chipotle came from digital transactions, and as such, the brand has focused its efforts on growing this segment of the business.

Chipotle’s newest location in upstate New York epitomizes this first digital experience, as customers must order ahead through the Chipotle app or other third-party services and cannot dine on site. No more waiting in the traditional Chipotle assembly line. Instead, customers simply pick up their orders from a shelf, reducing face-to-face contact between customers and employees.

The smaller restaurant floor plan not only addresses the declining demand for on-site dining, but is also cost effective for urban areas where real estate is more expensive. Going forward, a Chipotle spokesperson told CNN Business that it plans to open more in areas where it has “higher sales volume through digital commerce.”

The country’s most beloved brands, including Chipotle, Burger King and Shake Shack, are redesigning their restaurants to improve drive-thru, reduce or eliminate dining areas and add specific pickup areas for digital in-store and on-the-go orders. car park.

According to Schillig, “It’s no longer a question of ‘should we embrace automation and technology’, it’s just a no-brainer. Those who do, and constantly reiterate how technology makes operations and customer journeys more efficient, will shape not only the future of restaurant design, but also the future of omnichannel dining experiences.

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This post is sponsored by Grubbrr