Jimmy John's introduced its first drive-thru-only restaurant Thursday, joining a number of quick-service chains that've sought to leverage the channel's growing power.
The store, located in Bartow Florida, includes dual lanes and windows, with one side dedicated to mobile orders. Customers also have the option to pick up their order at carryout lockers.
“Jimmy John’s has always been at the forefront of the industry, particularly when it comes to listening to our customers,” Andrew Bello, Inspire Brand's vice president of design and architecture, said in a statement. “This new drive-thru only model represents our continued commitment to evolve with our customers and serve the best, freshest sandwiches with speed and efficiency.”
Drive-thru has become a major priority for operators since the start of COVID when dining rooms were shuttered across the nation. The channel accounted for 52 percent of off-premises orders in 2021 and increased visits by 4 percent year-over-year, according to the NPD Group. Also, Digital orders placed through an app or website increased 13 percent in 2021, after growing 100 percent in 2020.
Jimmy John's new visual identity, rolled out last year, is fully integrated into the prefab modular building. Brand design agency ChangeUp, which has also worked with Taco Bell, Panera, Panda Express, Nike, Cadillac, and Macy’s, assisted the fast casual with its brand refresh and the development of its drive-thru only prototype.
“From the start of the process, we knew we wanted to treat this space as an architectural billboard and create a physical manifestation of the Jimmy John’s brand,” Ryan Brazelton, ChangeUp's chief creative officer, said in a statement. “By bringing the brand to life in this way, we could ensure that every touchpoint, digital and physical, creates a cohesive experience that is unique to Jimmy John’s.”
The past two years have been filled with major concepts announcing plans to open drive-thru only locations.
In June, Jack in the Box revealed plans for a 1,300-square-foot prototype that's less than half the size of a typical box and includes a double-drive thru. The company said the model will reduce costs between 18-23 percent while reaching similar sales volumes. Then in December, Chipotle announced it the opening of a Chipotlane Digital Kitchen in Cuyahoga Falls Ohio, which features a walk-up window and no dining room or frontline.
Schlotzsky's said it was testing a drive-thru only design in January 2021. At the time, drive-thru had grown 40 percent during COVID.
“We started looking at the business and the trends and just realized that here's a great opportunity for just really leaning into drive-thru,” Schlotzsky's COO Tory Bartlett told QSR more than a year ago. “… Prior, the brand’s been building larger prototypes and larger restaurants. You see a lot of brands struggling to position themselves with real estate across a lot of different markets. And the markets that we were looking at, everybody is looking for an acre with ingress, regress. We just realized there's an opportunity to build something smaller and maybe be able to take advantage of some of these partials that were leftovers, but are still really good real estate—0.6, 0.7 of an acre.”