Quick service restaurants have been reconsidering their formats for some time reflecting the demand for drive-thru and the increasing desire for home delivery services, but when COVID-19 struck, the need for many of the proposed changes became more pressing.
Technology integration has been part of the impetus for change, with Chipotle taking the lead with their Chipotlane concept, an app-based system that expedite drive-thru service at their new locations. Wendy’s introduced a smaller format without indoor dining, offering drive through and walk-up service. And recently Taco Bell and Burger King have released designs for smaller-scale multi-lane drive-thru formats decreasing indoor and expanding outdoor seating and technology-based services. Designs are circulating for reduced-scale KFC, Shake Shack, Sonic, and Starbuck’s locations with others soon to follow. These new formats provide a great opportunity for chains to employ modular construction to quickly deploy these new projects.
Ikoniq, a manufacturer of steel modular buildings, has been working on the solution as well. Recognizing that revised formats are ideal for modular construction, Ikoniq’s in-house design team has developed concepts to support this market.
The indoor dining model has taken a hiatus. Chains and independent operators are responding to current conditions with major format changes, providing reduced footprint locations with an emphasis on speed of delivery, signature design elements and engaging outdoor accommodations
The pandemic has resulted in a major shift in revenue, with restaurants that are dependent upon indoor dining suffering great losses, but those offering curbside and drive-thru receiving a major uptick in business. "Customers are looking at alternatives to the indoor dining experience to seek safer ways to enjoy their favorite meals," Cox continues, "but that doesn’t mean they are foregoing experience. Brands are responding with designs that focus on open-air dining, online ordering and expedited drive-thru service."
Ikoniq delivers the entire package, from buildings complete with finishes and equipment installations to signage and graphics. Buildings arrive on-site with all elements in place, taking only a few weeks to become operational. While sitework is performed, Ikoniq constructs building modules in their factory in Western New York, delivering nationwide. This decreases project timelines and improves the bottom line with reduced construction costs, greater consistency and construction quality, while supporting corporate sustainability goals with reduced waste and better performing buildings.