Data IntelligenceOperationsReal EstateRestaurant Design

Drive-Thrus are Transforming

It’s hard not to notice the rise of food delivery services in the restaurant industry. Thanks to the proliferation of delivery service apps, having food delivered to your doorstep is quicker and more accessible than ever before. Chains nationwide are restructuring their lanes to better accommodate the new demands. 

Drive-thrus are increasingly oriented towards delivery driver pick-ups as more and more orders are being made online. Fast casuals chains like Chipotle, Cava and Blaze Pizza have started testing drive-thru pickup windows.  T3 President Ben Gaddis says this is due to customer pressures to get orders out faster, as customers are comparing restaurant service to Amazon, Uber Eats and other companies based online. Starbucks, for instance, has benefited from focusing on drive-thrus after having added them to over 80% of locations by 2018. Stores with drive-thrus regularly outperform those without, so it’s not hard to see where the revenue is coming from. 

This is easier said than done however. Space restraints are an obstacle to the addition of any new drive-thru lanes, let alone ones dedicated to online pickup only. Restaurants in Boston rarely get drive-thrus approved, with Bialow Real Estate CEO Corey Bialow saying the city is one of the most difficult places to do so. Cities and towns typically oppose drive-thrus due to concerns about traffic backups. Each municipality will have its own regulations, so it can be tricky to adopt wide scale changes. 

Mediterranean concept restaurant Cava is utilizing data science to run their restaurants more efficiently.  Cava’s CEO Brett Schulman has cited impressive results thanks to this approach, they range from reduction in food waste by tracking orders, ensuring food safety through monitoring of the supply chain and the creation of an ordering app that is more accurate and even projects pickup times based on what is going on in-store.

Part of Cava’s strategy is to give customers a lot of options. They can choose from online ordering, the drive-thru or going into the restaurant itself. Cava believes this will appeal to the younger generation accustomed to having things on-demand. As their spending power increases, you can expect to see more businesses following suit. 


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