- Wendy’s has opened its first Global Next Gen restaurants in Kansas and Oklahoma, with over 200 of these units slated to open through 2024, the company said Tuesday.
- This design, which was unveiled last year, allows for 400 times the capacity of digital orders and will help the company grow its digital sales, said Wendy's President, International & Chief Development Officer Abigail Pringle.
- In addition to the Global Next Gen restaurant, the chain also developed a Global Next Gen High-Capacity Kitchen, which is expected to increase kitchen capacity by 50% compared to the standard prototype.
The high-capacity kitchen design will be used at restaurants with the highest consumer demand, the fast food chain said. In addition to the standard Global Next Gen design, which includes delivery pickup windows, mobile order parking, in-store shelves for digital orders and self-order kiosks, these high-capacity units contain a dual-sided kitchen as well as “additional sandwich production areas, dedicated space for digital orders and more prep area.”
Among the benefits of this kitchen is that it reduces the distances crew members need to travel throughout the back of house, expands storage capacity and enhances the overall operational flow, the company said.
In general, the Global Next Gen restaurant is expected to reduce buildout and operational costs, which will help improve the rate of return for franchisees, Pringle said in past statements.
“It also touts an annual energy cost reduction of about [6%], which is a win for our franchisees and a win for the environment,” she said. “The new design also provides demonstrated labor optimization improvements, which add up to valuable savings here as well.”
The new kitchen design comes as the company continues to see digital sales growth. Global digital sales made up 12% of total sales and were up 25% year-over-year in the second quarter, CEO Todd Penegor said last week during an earnings call. In the U.S., digital sales mix was 11%, comparatively. The company expects its global digital sales to reach over $1.5 billion.
Given the growing preference of younger generations to order digitally, chains have been leaning into off-premise focused designs. Freddy’s opened a restaurant design with a drive-thru and mobile pickup window earlier this year, while Zaxby’s rolled out its first franchised-owned, off-premise-only unit in June. Biscuitville began operating its first drive-thru-only unit in North Carolina at the end of May.