Like its sister chain Taco Cabana, Miami-based Pollo Tropical stands apart in the drive-thru world in that it is a fast-casual operation with a more complex menu. As such, much of Pollo Tropical’s drive-thru experience—as well as its other off-premises dining opportunities, such as catering, takeout, and delivery—is focused on quality, from the customer service and consistency to the order accuracy and efficiency.

“The emphasis has been on order accuracy and helping the guest feel at ease in the drive-thru lane,” says Danny Meisenheimer, interim CEO of Fiesta Restaurant Group, parent company of Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana. “We’ve added order-confirmation boards and drive-thru order takers to help facilitate orders in high-volume and new restaurants using portable ordering devices.”

Meisenheimer adds that clean drive-thru lanes and friendly customer service create a more high-quality, valuable drive-thru experience, which gives the customer more intent to return. Technology also helps; he points to better timers and communication tools as being key to making the drive thru more reliable and to avoiding bottlenecks. Order-confirmation boards, line-busting tablets, and cameras also allow the company to “personalize the service in ways not possible before,” he says.

Meisenheimer says ordering kiosks, faster credit-card processing, off-site third-party order-taking, and online integration are all potential strategies in the coming years.

This story has been updated to reflect Danny Meisenheimer's new title.

Customer Experience, Drive Thru, Fast Casual, Ordering, Special Reports, Pollo Tropical