Locations opened since 2017 have 35 percent higher AUVs; the classes of 2020 and 2021 both exceed $2 million. Ricci attributes this to AI and other tech innovation that help Dutch Bros determine which markets would be accepting. He also believes brand equity is strong thanks to social media. There are conversations around Dutch Bros, even in big-time markets where it isn’t close to opening, like New York.
“I think that there's a sense of 'Dutch Bros is coming to our market' type of feel to it or 'to our neighborhood,'” Ricci says. “As the volume of communication and the volume of digital and the volume of PR grows, I think there's just more awareness around the brand and what we do. Certainly our teams create a really great fever pitch to the anticipation that's just coming. And I think we've elevated our game in that area and continue to see good results.”
Because of that extra volume, Dutch Bros has worked to make its drive-thru—which accounts for 90 percent of sales—more efficient. Similar to Chick-fil-A, employees greet drivers outside and take orders, and then two lanes merge into one. To keep lines from getting too long, workers run smaller orders to cars farther back in line, and those vehicles can then take an “escape lane” and exit the drive-thru without having to wait until the window. This layout is built into all new models.
“We can keep things moving, but not jeopardize the experience for the customer who needs to have that conversation with the window,” Ricci says. " … If [a customer] is at the window and she happens to see a barista that she knows or maybe they're just talking and it's really important that [the customer] finishes out that conversation with the barista—we never want the customer to feel like they were rushed or had to move on.”
Dutch Bros is in 14 states. More than 60 percent of new locations in 2023 will be in California and Texas. The remaining stores are scattered, Ricci says. Many will be in existing Western states, like Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. There will also be continued growth further east in Oklahoma, Missouri, and Tennessee. New markets this year will be Kentucky and Alabama.