What does building a quick service restaurant for the future look like? Only one thing is certain- the future is a big unknown and very fast moving. We are in an era of heightened food safety expectations, high quality cuisine, increased concern about sustainability, rising labor costs, improved technology, and “outside of the box” service options. Brands are in a unique position where the old way no longer applies and embracing continuous improvement is what secures a restaurant’s future.
Delivery Options Expand
A business model exclusively for pizza and Chinese food in the past, food delivery is now an integral part of many quick service establishments. Adapting to delivery service offerings requires extra kitchen space, additional equipment, and improved technology. Balancing a few different service models- drive through, in restaurant dining, catering, and delivery- means that systems need to be more orderly and consistent.
Food Safety- The Non-Negotiable
Balancing the numerous priorities of restaurant design is tricky. Businesses must consider whether they want customers to see food being made and balance that with a more spacious dining area. But, the one non-negotiable is food safety. Failure to prioritize food safety in restaurant design can result in legal issues, a negative reputation, and people becoming sick. Investing in equipment, kitchen design, and food safety technology is the smart move for new restaurant owners and is the direction quick service restaurants are taking.
Increasing labor costs also play a role in kitchen design. Design and equipment efficiencies can help restaurant owners to decrease workforce expenses. Equipment that is updated, user friendly, and easy to clean can easily cut down on labor hours. Consider how long it takes to change the oil in a typical fryer. Newer designed fryers are easier and safe to change and changing oil takes half the time.
In addition to simplifying tasks and holding employees accountable, new technology platforms designed for the food service space allow food safety logs to be completed correctly and in less time. Apps allow delivery orders to be processed at lightning speed and improve communication with customers. Inventory tracking apps and marketing apps are cutting costs and increasing foot traffic. “There is an app for that,” when it comes to quick service restaurant operations.
Increasing consumer demand for restaurants to have a “greener image” and leave a smaller carbon footprint has been met with innovation. Balancing upfront costs with energy savings has led many restaurants to adopt LED lighting and water reducing faucets and sprayers. Some larger, energy efficient equipment may take several years to recover the upfront costs in energy savings. The concept of sustainability can be approached with little steps. Using food waste trackers, separating trash, composting, and using recycled paper products are a few ways that restaurants can quickly get on board.
Planning for the future of quick service restaurants involves factoring in the likelihood of changing dining trends. Quick service restaurant redesigning for the future means making tough decisions about which technologies, spaces, and efficiencies are the most valuable. As pick up and delivery service increases in demand and quality and convenience expectations rise, operators will be forced to rise to the occasion.