America's Second-Largest Burger Chain Is Getting a New Look
Wendy's is making changes to its growth plans. Instead of the major ghost kitchen expansion deal, the chain is refocusing on its traditional restaurants and has decided that overhauling and optimizing design is key to its burger future.
The company just revealed it will be upgrading its restaurant design on all newly built locations. The new Global Next Gen prototype will feature updated technology as well as more seamless ways to pick up orders. There will be new pick-up windows dedicated solely to drivers picking up orders for delivery, as well as pick-up shelves for customers' mobile orders located inside (with designated customer parking to boot.)
Additionally, the entire restaurant will be streamlined to operate more efficiently, including the new galley-style kitchen which will run from the front to the back of the restaurant.
The first restaurant featuring the new design will open in New Albany, Ohio in the spring of 2023.
Customers are continuing to lean on mobile ordering and drive-thrus ever since the pandemic. In fact, drive-thru traffic grew by 20% from February 2020 to February 2022, according to reports from The NPD Group.
"To accelerate our business and expand our footprint across the globe, we must consistently meet the needs of our customers however they chose to engage with Wendy's, whether that's through a digital platform or in the drive-thru," said Wendy's President and CEO Todd Penegor in a press release.
While Wendy's may be looking to expand its reach globally, it has walked back a major ghost kitchen deal it struck with Reef in 2021. Of the 700 ghost kitchen units planned across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., the chain will be opening a mere 100 to 150, with most of the cutback affecting the domestic market.
And while Wendy's growth will focus on streamlining its classic design, other chains are making even more significant changes. Recently Southern burger chain Krystal announced a completely seatless design, with a new restaurant that features drive-thru lanes only.
Taco Bell has been making waves with its new restaurant as well, which features vertical food lifts and video chatting with the staff. Applebees and Auntie Anne's have gotten into the drive-thru game, proving the method isn't reserved for fast food only.