From grocery stores to fast food chains, the pandemic continues to change how businesses operate. As more dining rooms are being closed due to COVID-19-related restrictions, a growing number of quick service restaurant construction projects are trending toward streamlined designs to help ensure faster and more accurate drive-thru experiences for customers. In addition to expanding drive-thru capabilities, some franchisees are also making improvements to delivery services and even limiting menus in some cases. Here is a closer look at how construction of grocery store and fast food chains are changing during the pandemic to offer better service and help keep employees and customers safe.

  • More dual drive-thrus – The days of single drive-thru lanes, at least for new projects, could be over. Major fast food companies are transitioning to at least double drive-thru lanes to accommodate two customers at the same time, or even a third drive-thru to handle large, specialized orders in busy locations.
  • “Go Mobile” locations – Mobile-focused concepts that encourage customers to order food online before arriving at restaurants are scheduled to open in 2021. These locations will feature priority pickup drive-thru lanes, contactless curbside pickup and shelves inside to retrieve orders.
  • Digital menu boards – There are many quick service restaurants that already provide digital menu boards and confirmation boards to improve order efficiency, but they can also be used to gather data regarding predictive sales.
  • Small or no dining rooms – More brands are exploring express models that only offer delivery, drive-thru, or takeout.
  • Self-ordering kiosks – The ordering process is evolving away from paying a cashier for food to automated systems that allow for order customization, convenient payment options, etc.
  • Grocery-anchored developments – More supermarkets are being constructed within residential projects in an effort to provide easier access to food. The demand for grocery-anchored urban infills continues to trend because residents are willing to pay more for apartments where they can simply walk to shop for food. Some traditional markets that were struggling to compete with e-commerce companies are revamping their designs to become social destinations by offering everything from pubs to outdoor dining areas. Experts are predicting even more partnerships between city planners, construction firms, and grocery stores regarding these developments in the future.

Consumers can expect to see more technology in the food ordering process as more quick service restaurants transition to drive-thru and carryout only options. The construction job market is also expected to remain strong as many supermarkets move forward with plans to remodel or expand in 2021.



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