- Wendy’s unveiled a prototype Wednesday for its traditional units, which includes a delivery pickup window, mobile order parking spaces, in-store shelving for digital orders and a redesigned kitchen layout.
- The restaurant design will become the standard build for traditional units across markets in the fall. Wendy’s plans to open its first Global Next Gen restaurant in Ohio in the spring.
- Wendy’s new store format, optimized for a variety of channels, comes after the chain recently slashed its projected ghost kitchen openings with Reef Technology from 700 to roughly 150.
By redesigning its traditional unit layout to increase the efficiency of delivery and digital pickup, Wendy’s new units can offer streamlined omnichannel ordering.
The company says its new kitchen design — a galley style kitchen running from the front of the store to the back — offers increased oversight and makes it easier to redeploy workers from station to station as needed. The stores will also feature more efficient HVAC and lighting, and unspecified “behind the scenes” technology to increase digital capacity.
Wendy’s operates and franchises 7,040 restaurants and plans to reach 8,000 to 8,500 by 2025, according to the company’s most recent 10-Q. Even with these aggressive growth plans, CEO Todd Penegor downgraded its restaurant growth forecast from a range of 5% to 6% to a range of 3% to 4% this year, due to a reevaluation of Wendy’s expansion deal with Reef. This downward revision suggest traditional store builds will play a larger role in the company’s ongoing growth. In the company’s Q4 2021 earnings statements, Wendy’s originally estimated up to half of its new units would be non-traditional.
Other restaurant chains have revamped their store designs or deployed new units to meet shifting consumer preferences in recent months. Some of those new formats are optimized for one channel, while other brands are trying to build out designs servicing a wider variety of channels. Inspire Brands is testing ghost kitchens and has developed a drive-thru-only, modular design compatible with its major brands. Panera opened a digital-only store in Chicago in June, and opened its first double drive-thru restaurant last year.