Check out Burger King’s ‘touchless’ – and smaller restaurants of the future

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Check out Burger King’s ‘touchless’ – and smaller restaurants of the future

By Marianne Wilson - 09/03/2020

Burger King unveiled two futuristic restaurant designs that offer a “touchless” experience, complete with conveyor belts that deliver orders to customers.

The new designs, which will debut in new restaurants opening next year in Miami, the Caribbean and Latin America, will feature dedicated mobile order and curbside pick-up areas, drive-in and walk-up order areas, an enhanced drive-thru experience, exterior dining spaces and sustainable design elements, including solar panels. (Specifics are at end of article.) The footprint is about 60% smaller than a traditional Burger King restaurant site.

The new designs, created by Burger King parent Restaurant Brands International’s in-house design group, were unveiled as drive-thru visits at restaurants have surged during the pandemic. The design plans were drafted with input from tech, operations and food innovation teams.

“In March our in-house design and tech team accelerated new restaurant design plans and pushed the limits of what a Burger King restaurant could be,” said Josh Kobza, COO, Restaurant Brands. “We took into consideration how consumer behaviors are changing and our guests will want to interact with our restaurants. The result is a new design concept that is attractive to guests and will allow our franchisees to maximize their return.”

One design option features a suspended kitchen and dining room above drive-thru lanes configured to reduce the building footprint, making it ideal for urban areas. There are three drive-thru lanes, with one exclusively for delivery drivers.

With this design, drive-thru customers will have their order delivered from the suspended kitchen by a conveyor belt system (each lane has its own pick-up spot.)  Customers can also eat their food in the dining room and covered outdoor seating situated above the drive-thru entrance. The design of this restaurant allows a 100% touchless experience.

The reimagined restaurant blueprints emphasize the following:

  • Drive-In. Customers will be able to park their cars in the drive-in area under solar-powered canopies, place their orders through the Burger King app by scanning a QR code at their parking spot, and have food quickly delivered to their cars.
  • Curbside Delivery. Advance orders placed through the mobile app will have dedicated parking spots for curbside delivery. Customers will be able to notify the restaurant team member upon arrival via the app as instructed on the parking signs.
  • Pick-Up Food Lockers. Mobile and delivery orders can also be picked up from coded food lockers facing the exterior of the restaurant. The food will come straight from the kitchen to the pick-up lockers.
  • On-Premise Dining‑But Outside. One design option replaces the traditional indoor dining room with a shaded patio featuring outdoor seating for customers.
  • Drive-Thru. A double or triple drive-thru features digital menu boards and merchandising. The multi-lane ordering and pick-up expedites the process, while a “living wall” frames the customer’s view into the kitchen interior, featuring the iconic Burger King broiler. An external walk-up window on the glass façade will offer an alternative ordering point for take-out.

“The designs we’ve created completely integrate restaurant functionality and technology. The restaurant of the tomorrow merges the best functional technology with unique modern design to elevate our Burger King guest experience,” said Rapha Abreu, global head of design at Restaurant Brands International. “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.”