- Chick-fil-A opened a grab-and-go kiosk in downtown Des Moines that offers its original chicken sandwich, spicy chicken sandwich, wraps, salads, waffle fry chips and bottled drinks, according to Des Moines Register.
- The kiosk is open from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. during weekdays.
- In 2017, Chick-fil-A opened a kiosk for a few weeks at another Des Moines location to gauge demand for the restaurant in the region.
Mobile restaurant locations can help drum up brand interest in locations that may be difficult to penetrate or outside of a brand's usual region, but these concepts also pose challenges.
Quality control must be paramount when setting up a temporary restaurant, especially considering that this could be some diners' first experience trying a restaurant brand. Achieving consistency and top quality can be difficult in a traditional restaurant space, let alone a temporary kiosk in a skyscraper lobby.
There are also logistical hurdles in terms of replenishing supply and ensuring that the kiosk isn't understocked or overstocked with items that may expire. And if the kiosk offers a limited menu, hardcore fans may be disappointed that they can't savor some of their favorite options.
Still, that isn't keeping other QSRs out of the mobile restaurant game. Dunkin' and Nathan's Famous franchisees have partnered with MOVE systems, producer of solar-powered and battery-rechargeable food carts, in New York City. Sweetgreen has also launched a concept called Outposts in corporate offices that serve as a pickup location for diners who order salads or bowls online. This model could be another way for restaurants to boost their brand presence, without the hassle of on-site food preparation.
Kiosks are just one example of Chick-fil-A's growing appetite for innovation in any form. For example, it's fast at work trying to develop a plant-based poultry alterative in order to keep pace with rival burger chains' increasing trend of adding plant-based burgers to their menus. It’s also infusing AI technology into its operations to help identify food safety issues and even dabbling in the meal kit space, according to Forbes.
The chain is also piloting a new delivery program at one of its Georgia locations, which features a branded delivery car that brings lunch orders and even catering through the Chick-fil-A app. An employee from the restaurant makes the delivery in lieu of a third-party service like DoorDash, Grubhub or Uber Eats.
It's unclear whether kiosks could become part of a larger brand strategy, but given the chain's growing focus on off-premise solutions, it could help Chick-fil-A enter dense urban markets without shelling out for high real estate costs.