top of page

Wendy’s Cooks Up Model for Its Future: Digital-Friendly Restaurants

Global Prototype Offers Dedicated Delivery Windows, Pickup Shelves

Photo Courtesy of JHVEPhoto.

Wendy's founder Dave Thomas was a fast food restaurant innovator, and the burger chain says it is looking to keep that tradition alive.

So in the near future, Wendy's signature Frosties and fries will be served up in a new kind of setting. The chain on Wednesday unveiled its next-generation global restaurant prototype, a redesign for its locations to better accommodate online ordering and pickups.

Wendy's, based in Dublin, Ohio, plans to open the first prototype restaurant in New Albany, Ohio, in the spring of next year. The new design will "enhance the digital-forward customer experience" and "feature a sleek and modern design with an optimized layout and next-generation technology to deliver more Wendy's to more people with an emphasis on convenience, speed and accuracy."

Wendy's touted its pioneering past, saying Thomas introduced the pickup window in 1970 and therefore created the first drive-thru.

"As the first restaurant brand to offer a modern pickup window more than 50 years ago, Wendy's continues its legacy of design and innovation with Global Next Gen," Todd Penegor, the company's president and CEO, said in a statement.

But in this case it is following in the footsteps of a number of restaurant chains. They are redoing their interiors and exteriors to better accommodate the rise of online ordering and food-delivery services such as DoorDash and Grubhub. Some are even eliminating their dining rooms. Taco Bell, for example, has been rolling out Go Mobile locations, where customers can order inside on a kiosk and take their food to a patio to eat. And Shake Shack has started opening drive-thru restaurants and was planning to test an "exterior-focused drive-thru" that would have limited or no seating inside, just an outdoor dining patio.

Wendy's new design includes a dedicated window to pick up online orders. (Wendy's)

Wendy's said it, too, is aiming to better cater to consumers.

"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," Penegor said.

The prototype is also meant to streamline operations for employees and create better returns for franchisees, according to Penegor.

The next-gen eateries will have a dedicated delivery pickup window and delivery parking as a convenience for delivery drivers, who previously had to enter the dining room to grab orders and go, according to Wendy's.

"This design also shifts traffic out of the drive-thru line where customers are waiting, so crew can focus on taking and fulfilling orders more quickly, efficiently and accurately," Wendy's said.

The new restaurants will also feature dedicated mobile order pickup areas, namely mobile-order parking and pickup shelves inside the eateries. Customers can choose a pickup time when they place their mobile order. When they arrive, they can park in a dedicated parking spot and grab their meal off shelves inside.

The new kitchens will incorporate a galley-style design, running from the front to the back of the restaurant. That will create "efficiencies at the point of sale," allowing employees to slide between positions more easily throughout the day, and support faster order fulfillment, according to Wendy's.

The restaurants based on the prototype will also incorporate technology that will permit them to handle more digital business than before, and they will use more efficient structural elements such as lighting, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems that decrease energy costs, Wendy's said.

bottom of page