Imagine parking under a solar-powered canopy at your local Burger King, scanning a QR code, placing your order on the Burger King app, and having your Whopper and shake brought to your car. Or, what if you could pick up your mobile order from a coded pickup locker or grab it from a conveyor belt at the drive-thru? No, you’re not in an episode of The Jetsons cartoon – these are new design features for a few Burger King locations that will be rolled out in 2021.
Miami-based Burger King recently revealed two new “touchless” restaurant designs that it says “will deliver flexibility, innovative features and convenient options for how BK food can be ordered and delivered, to fulfill changing guests demands.” The plans were developed by the in-house design group at Restaurant Brands International in collaboration with tech, operations, and food innovation teams “to dramatically improve the Burger King restaurant guest experience.”
The company confirmed that the first of these restaurants will be built next year in Miami, the Caribbean, and Latin America. “As we look into 2021, we’ll be ramping up again on our new development around the world and doing a lot of remodels,” Restaurant Brands International Chief Operating Officer Josh Kobza told CNN Business.
The fast-food retailer said in a press release that its two new designs “will provide multiple ordering and delivery modes and highlight a physical footprint 60% smaller than a traditional Burger King restaurant building and site.” Burger King’s new restaurant designs accomplish the 60 percent size reduction by optimizing space and placing emphasis on drive-thru, curbside pick-up, and mobile orders. “The restaurant of the tomorrow merges the best functional technology with unique modern design to elevate our Burger King guest experience,” said Global Head of Design at Restaurant Brands International, Rapha Abreu.
It’s no surprise that Burger King and other fast-food companies are focusing their efforts on the drive-thru and pick-up options. According to market research company NPD Group data, drive-thru orders were up 26 percent in April, May, and June, and represented 42 percent of total restaurant visits. Additionally, new Rakuten Ready data indicates that order for pickup transactions have surged to over 200 percent since March. Out of the nearly 7,300 U.S. Burger King locations, more than 6,500 have drive-thrus, CNN Business reports.
The two designs unveiled by Burger King include the Next Level and Your Way layouts. The Next Level design features two levels with a kitchen and dining room suspended over up to three drive-thru lanes, one of which is devoted to delivery drivers, according to CNBC. This design features a conveyor belt that delivers meals from the second-floor kitchen to customers below in each of the three drive-thru lanes, eliminating contact.
The Your Way design has two drive-thru lanes, a walk-up window, and parking spots under solar-powered canopies where customers can scan a QR code and order to-go from their phones. This design also offers a covered outdoor patio area for customers who wish to dine at the restaurant. Both designs feature mobile pickup lockers and curbside pickup, as well as glass windows allowing customers to see their food being prepared. The Your Way design even includes a living wall which “frames the guest’s view into the kitchen interior,” Burger King said in a press release. “We designed the interior and exterior spaces like we had a blank sheet of paper, designing without preconceived notions of how a Burger King restaurant should look,” said Abreu. Burger King’s new designs indicate that the utopian future in The Jetsons may be closer than we think.