Meals on Wheels: UK explodes as brands invest in new locations | Food industry

Drive-through restaurants were an American-inspired novelty, but a sharp rise in the custom during the pandemic means money is pouring into new UK locations, even high-end names looking to serve food through the windows cars for the first time.

New real estate research suggests demand for drive-thru increased 25% after Covid, with restaurant chains seeking to open a total of 200 locations per year. The outcry comes as established names like McDonald’s and Burger King face competition from North American brands like Tim Hortons, famous for its coffee and donuts, and burger chain Wendy’s.

The growing trend of ordering burgers, soda and coffee in our cars, which comes at a time as the UK is trying to reduce car use and obesity, is spreading beyond its heart traditional Big Mac and chicken nuggets.

‘Healthy’ fast food chain Leon, with its fish wraps and baked fries, and upscale burger restaurant chain Five Guys are set to open their first drive-thru locations in Gildersome, West Yorkshire and Stockton- on-Tees in County Durham, respectively.

An additional 40 million visits were made to the estimated 2,000 drive-thru services in the UK in the year through April, bringing the number to nearly 490 million, according to the NPD market research. The gain came at the expense of sit-down meals at fast food restaurants where the custom fell off a cliff due to restrictions and lockdown closures. It revealed that customers place larger-than-average orders in a drive-thru, spending £ 6.16 per person, compared to £ 5.91 for walk-in tours.

Drive-thru services have fallen out of favor with the British since McDonald’s first opened in Fallowfield, Manchester in the 1980s. They were back in vogue before the pandemic, but since the lockdown demand has increased, Thomas said. Rose, co-founder of real estate consulting firm P-Three who compiled the research. He explains that operators like them because they generate high sales and require less staff than a sit-in type property.

Demand for sites “has probably increased by 25% after Covid as we see a shift towards more convenience,” Rose said. “There are around 200 sites per year required by operators. The pressure for sites is important and competitive tendering for the best locations between operators is more and more common, pushing values ​​up. “

Last year’s closures, which forced restaurants to close their restaurants, prompted many Britons to switch to home delivery services such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats as well as drive-thru and get used to more and more to use applications to place their orders.

Drive-thru is another “quick way to get food where you don’t have to sit and eat it with a knife and fork and a waiter hovering over you,” said Peter Backman, a consultant. restoration.

“There are many reasons people eat outside the home. One is having a great time and the other is that they can’t bother to cook. In the past, ready meals from supermarkets satisfied that – you put them in a microwave and the job was done. There is space for meals that are easy to prepare and eat and not too expensive.

In recent years, other street food brands ranging from Costa and Starbucks to Greggs and Krispy Kreme have opened drive-ins in an effort to expand their reach beyond a main street where footfall is falling. Drive sites are also generally less expensive.

“We’ve had drive-thru for over 30 years and it hasn’t really taken off except for a small number of brands,” Backman continued. “I’m a little skeptical because the reason it works in America is that they have the space and a very car-oriented culture. People will understandably drive 20 minutes to buy a burger when it is probably a little more in demand in this country.

After the severe financial turmoil caused by the pandemic and now severe staff shortages, food chains have to “try everything because something might work,” Backman added. “These are very interesting and very difficult times.”

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In the United States, where a drive-thru tour is more popular than door-to-door delivery services, health and environmental concerns have led to measures to stop construction of new sites in some cities. Rose believes UK planners should give serious thought to giving the green light to drive-thru services (in towns and city centers and in business parks rather than on the highways).

“Drive-thru services are the antithesis of the community spirit upon which the renewal of many UK communities depends,” Rose said of a catering format that encourages people to “stay separate from each other in their vehicles and not to go further than the collection point and return home “.

“There is no doubt that drive-thru is exceptionally convenient, especially for young families, shift workers and those who make long journeys. However, this convenience has an environmental and societal cost. I do not see that this is a price to pay.

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