The new food items were the result of a socially distanced research group that gathered in late June to help guide culinary innovation for the rest of 2020. So far, Williams says the Grande Homewrecker and Loaded Steak and Potato Burrito and Bowl have exceeded expectations. Another piece of menu innovation is expected to enter stores in December.
“I could not be more pleased with the way we’re looking at innovation of our food and how we’re actually delivering to our guests,” Williams says. “I think the most important thing is that guests are responding because they’re purchasing these items that we’re giving. It says that we’re doing the right thing and giving the customers what they want.”
Regarding development, Williams says Moe’s is still focused on a steady rate of growth. The brand is on pace to open 14 restaurants the year. The chain is also mulling enhancements to store design and testing several elements to improve its prototype. The options range from smaller footprints, more kiosk-only concepts, and potentially adding kiosks into other units.
Moe’s will also look to accelerate the inclusion of drive-thrus, a mission biggest competitors—Chipotle and Qdoba—are also striving toward. Chipotle opened its 100th drive-thru location in July and Qdoba plans to nearly double its drive-thru footprint before the end of the year.
“That’s a piece that during the pandemic we felt like would be an added value as we move forward,” Williams says.
Williams says Moe’s positioning in a post-COVID world is dependent on providing a safe and sanitary place for consumers to order their favorite Moe’s item. He adds that the company has spent the past 20 years building a culture that allows for convenience without sacrificing service.
The main goal is to spread that culture beyond the four walls of the restaurant.
“We really want to extend that Welcome to Moe’s love and culture in everything that we do whether you’re eating in our restaurants or you dine out,” Williams says. “When this pandemic started, we were able to be nimble. We provided support to our guests, we provided support to our franchisees as well as the communities we served.”