Wendy’s on Wednesday unveiled a new prototype that features an improved layout and better integration with digital technology, including a special pickup area for mobile orders and a window dedicated for delivery drivers.
The new design, which it calls “Global Next Gen,” is the latest in a string of new prototypes from limited-service restaurants eager to build on digital sales gains that took place during the pandemic. New restaurant builds will feature the new prototype starting this fall.
“We know our customers,” Kurt Kane, president of Wendy’s U.S. president and chief commercial officer, said in a blog post Q&A about the new design. “With increased preferences for mobile ordering, drive-thru and delivery, we must constantly meet and exceed expectations for quality, order accuracy and convenience.”
The new design features a pick-up window for delivery orders, including parking for the drivers who once had to go into the dining room to get orders and leave. The design also shifts traffic away from the drive-thru where customers are waiting.
There are pickup shelves in the restaurant for mobile orders along with parking dedicated for such customers.
The design features a new galley-style kitchen that runs from the front to the back of the restaurant and is designed to improve efficiency across all sales channels. Crew members can more easily slide between positions throughout the day.
The design uses new technology behind the scenes, the company said, enabling Wendy’s to handle more digital business. And there are more efficient elements throughout the building to decrease energy use, including new lighting and HVAC.
Company executives said the new design cuts energy costs by 6%. “Our analysis shows that Global Next Gen optimizes costs to build, which helps improve the rate of return for our franchise partners,” Chief Development Officer Abigail Pringle said in a blog post. She added that the company believes the design could also save on labor costs.
For Wendy’s, the new prototype comes as digital sales continue to increase. The chain now gets 10% of its sales globally through digital channels like mobile order and delivery. With expectations that these channels will grow, that has made it important for brands to provide service areas that target such orders without distracting from areas like the drive-thru—where chains get about three-quarters of their sales from.
The company said that it worked with teams from every Wendy’s function, including operations, technology, human resources and quality assurance, to work on the design and strategy. It also sought input from franchise leaders in the U.S. and Canada.
“Global Next Gen was designed to streamline operations,” Kane said. “The new cutting-edge blueprint removes barriers to increased accuracy, efficiency and effectiveness, supporting fast order fulfillment and enabling ongoing culinary innovations.”
He said that this will enable teams to focus on customer experiences.
Several quick-service chains, including Taco Bell, KFC, Sonic and Krystal, along with fast-casual chains such as Shake Shack, have developed new prototypes over the past two years designed to improve their use of technology and provide more access for digital consumers.
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