- Chick-fil-A is testing two restaurant designs: an elevated drive-thru and a walk-up design, the company said Thursday.
- Both are expected to open in 2024. The elevated drive-thru will open in the Atlanta metro area and the walk-up concept will debut in New York City.
- The company has a variety of models, like a 2,997-square-foot, drive-thru-focused restaurant in Oahu that opened on Thursday and includes three walk-up windows but no dining room. The company has about 40 drive-thru-only locations across its system, the chain wrote in an email to Restaurant Dive.
Both of the new designs combine a focus on digital ordering with Chick-fil-A’s traditional service model, allowing the chain to meet the needs of its mobile and in-person customers. In some markets, digital orders make up more than half of Chick-fil-A’s sales, which is driving it to emphasize digital occasions in store design.
“Understanding this desire for convenience, the locations for these tests were intentionally selected with the customers in mind, giving them more control over their desired experience and cutting down wait-time,” said Khalilah Cooper, Chick-fil-A’s executive director of restaurant design.
The elevated drive-thru model allows guests to order via a team member or order ahead using the dedicated Mobile Thru lanes. The company began testing its Mobile Thru lanes, or express drive-thru lanes, last year. Guests using the lanes order via the app, scan QR codes at the drive-thru and pick up their orders at the window.
“By building the kitchen above the drive-thru lanes, meals are expedited to the Team Member who delivers the order directly to the customer in a space protected by the upper level, so hospitality won’t be sacrificed for speed of service,” the company said.
This design has four lanes that can hold up to 75 cars, the company said.
Chick-fil-A’s walk-up prototype is expected to open up more neighborhoods that Chick-fil-A could enter, particularly urban areas with heavy foot traffic. Guests can order their meals ahead of time via its app and pick up their orders at the restaurant.
Several other chains have been testing new drive-thru and walk-up designs. Taco Bell opened its first elevated drive-thru last year in Minnesota, with a goal of drive-thru service times of two minutes or less. Chipotle, Sweetgreen and Panera have also been opening pickup-only locations in urban areas.