Editor’s note: This article has been update with The Habit Burger’s total drive-thru restaurants.
- The Habit Burger will open its first restaurant with a mobile pickup lane on Dec. 13 in Garden Grove, California, the company said in a press release this week.
- The 2,800-square-foot restaurant will provide dine-in, takeout and delivery in addition to mobile pickup. The restaurant also offers self-serve kiosks for ordering.
- The company said the mobile pickup lane is expected to “offer a faster, on-demand service, enhancing the efficiency and convenience of the drive-thru experience.”
Habit Burger joins a growing cohort of fast casual restaurants to add mobile pickup lanes, including Chipotle, which started adding these lanes in 2019, Sweetgreen and Cava. Shake Shack has also been adding drive-thrus to its system, and had 21 company-operated drive-thru restaurants open at the end of the third quarter. Habit Burger offers traditional drive-thrus at 96 units, so this marks a shift in its off-premise strategy.
Mobile pickup lanes can dramatically decrease wait times. Chipotle, for example, boasts pickup times of around 30 seconds, which is far faster than a traditional drive-thru. Because Habit Burger typically cooks burgers to order, it has long been plagued by long waits of six to eight minutes, or more depending on the line.
Habit Burger added 33 gross new units last year, a 10% year-over-year increase. As of Q3 2023, the company had grown to 369 units compared to 341 in the year-ago quarter, according to an SEC filing. A majority (85%) of its units are company-owned. The move toward mobile pickup lanes could help support this ongoing growth. The chain reported negative same-store sales of 5% last quarter, and despite growing system sales by 4% and units by 8%, the brand’s operating loss was $2 million.
The company brought on new leadership this year with a new CEO and its first-ever global CMO. Leadership has been focusing on building strong unit-level economics, Yum Brands CEO David Gibbs said during the company’s November earnings call. The team is also working on creating a “cost-effective packaging range designed for off-premise occasions, along with a new prototype store to optimize CapEx and pre-opening costs,” Gibbs said. The chain also launched its first everyday value platform in November, Simple Crafts, for a limited time.
“We have tremendous confidence in the long-term prospects of this brand and are encouraged by the improvements that the team is making to deliver success in the future,” Gibbs said.