These visual changes are joined by functional ones. Namely, a match for the onrushing off-premises wave Guith says “isn’t going away anytime soon.”
The midtown store features a car pick-up window for guests who order online or via the app. You can’t order at the window like a traditional drive thru. Guests simply pull up and pick up after using their digital device of choice.
These pick-up windows are currently in roughly 10 percent of McAlister’s stores, mostly in Texas. A franchisee leveraged the option to positive results, and McAlister’s saw room to adapt the option to a broader base.
“What we’ve looked at from the early days, in terms of what we think the impact is or could be, as off-premises becomes more and more prominent, it would more than pay for the investment,” Guith says. “And it would improve the unit-level economics. The challenge will be of course getting the real estate we can actually execute that in.”
Don’t count out standard drive thrus, either. There are “a handful” of those already in the system, and Guith says McAlister’s is evaluating the option where it works. Given the size and complexity of its menu, however, not to mention the training involved, McAlister’s is “firmly in the camp of having a pick-up window if we can have it,” Guith says. A couple are being added to corporate stores in Mississippi over the course of the next 3–6 months.
As for timing, Guith says McAlister’s hopes to have quite a bit of the changes installed in a material way over the next 12 months. Within 24, customers can expect to see quite a few, both new and remodels, out in the marketplace. McAlister’s paused on remodels once it engaged in the redesign, meaning there is significant backlog. “The flipside is we have a pretty substantial opportunity to deploy this new prototype and design in a meaningful way in the near term,” he says.