The latest fast food chain to reinvent its restaurants for the COVID-19 era is US-based fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), with a revamp that emphasizes the drive-thru and limits human contact.
The two new designs KFC revealed recently highlight the fact that “the habits of diners have shifted toward delivery rather than in restaurant dining — a trend that started pre-pandemic, but was accelerated by coronavirus, proving a need for a modernized design,” the company said.
The current KFC store design, named the “American Showman,” will gradually be phased out to be replaced by any one of the two new designs revealed.
The traditional dining room is ditched in one design which gives an alternative with less square footage that would be suitable for expansion into busier areas such as cities where real estate is more costly. Similar concepts that are smaller than traditional locations were recently unveiled by Chipotle and Starbucks.
The second design by KFC emphasizes the drive-thru, which comprised 60 percent of the company’s sales in the third quarter. This design includes two drive-thru lanes, with one dedicated to mobile order pickup. Earlier this year, Taco Bell, also owned by Yum! Brands (YUM), showed off a similar idea.
Both concepts feature brighter branding that emphasizes the traditional red and white stripes of KFC and a brightly lit red bucket that guides customers for online and pickup orders to a newly installed “cubby system.”
Some restaurants may have dedicated parking spaces for customers ordering from KFC’s app or third-party applications, as well as reserved spaces for online food aggregators such as Uber Eats and delivery drivers.
KFC said that next year the new designs would be rolled out in three US locations, followed by other countries.
During the pandemic, the drive-thru has become much more relevant for fast service restaurants, with several chains, including McDonald’s and Chipotle, reporting that restaurants with them have seen profits rise faster in recent earnings calls. McDonald’s and Burger King have all announced redesigns for their restaurants that boost their drive-thrus.