The pandemic, however, did challenge Amy’s Drive Thru. It pushed the brand to become better, Wolfgram says. Now Amy’s Drive Thru is more efficient, having introduced curbside, mobile ordering, and delivery. At first, sales dipped like other restaurants, but sales are now positive over the 2019 year.
Many restaurants found themselves in a less-than-ideal situation as fewer people sought work in restaurants, in part caused by expanded unemployment benefits and fear of contracting coronavirus at work.
Hiring employees has definitely been more challenging than in the past, Wolfgram admits. But leaning into the company’s values of organic food and sustainability has attracted talent with similar values.
“There's a lot of young people that are very passionate about what we're passionate about,” Wolfgram says. “So we've been able to attract people that are passionate, and we've had very little turnover because we have people that are committed to the same values that we have.”
The global pandemic also sparked consumers to think deeper about their own health and the planet, Wolfgram says, adding an increasing number of people are focused on eating plant-based foods. They don’t have to be full vegetarians; the flexitarian label has seen an increase in popularity.
It’s not just the pandemic influencing consumer behavior, either. The impending fallout from climate change also inspired guests, especially young generations that put stock into supporting companies that are more thoughtful when it comes to sustainability and their impact on the planet, Wolfgram says.
“I think people are looking to companies to help lead the way,” Wolfgram says. “We want to be part of that thought leadership on sustainability. We want to make a difference in the food service sector.”
By bringing organic foods into the fast-food arena, Wolfgram says, Amy’s Drive Thru is making a once-inaccessible category work for more people. No matter if customers are gluten or dairy-free, Amy’s Drive Thru has options: gluten-free buns and patties and dairy-free milkshakes made from coconut or almond milk.
“If we can move people from conventional farming to organic farming and animal-based products to plant-based products, the impact on the planet is incredible,” Wolfgram says.
Amy’s Drive Thru’s mission is nowhere near complete, though. Working with its architect
and engineering teams, Wolfgram says the brand is constantly looking for ways to improve its impact on the planet. The latest goal is just one move in that direction.
“That's what we're striving for,” Wolfgram said. “We're not there yet, but we're always striving to get to net zero.”