Something the full-service sector has been doing for a long time.

Turnover has long been an issue for quick-service brands. According to Black Box Intelligence, fast casual and quick-service restaurants have seen employee turnover soar from 133 percent in 2019 to 173 percent in 2022. Rising wages have also complicated plans for fully staffing restaurants. With staff in short supply, operators can find themselves redeploying revenue generating team members to handle critical but non-customer-facing tasks like washing wares. “Quick service restaurants are feeling the impact of rising wages,” says Gretchen King, Vice President of RD&E—Global QSR at Ecolab. 

Whereas many full-service brands have long since automated warewashing, the quick-service segment has been slower to make that change, which presents several issues for quick-service brands. First, handwashing wares can be inefficient, King says—a warewashing machine uses up to 75 percent less water. Second, there can be inconsistencies when handwashing wares. When employees are rushed, wares may not be properly cleaned. In addition to food safety risks, restaurants could disappoint customers if partially cleaned items like lobby trays make it into the rotation. 

Now is the time to make the switch to automate warewashing, King says, touting Ecolab’s KAY QSR Machine Warewashing Program as the perfect solution for quick-service brands. “Ecolab now offers the XL-RW machine tailor made for quick-service restaurants that delivers a valuable combination of speed, strength, and capacity needed to make machine automation a valuable addition to the quick-service back of house,” King says. With an oversized 10-inch higher door opening, the machine fits wares more common in quick service, like lobby trays and sheet pans. Combine that increased capacity with faster throughput from a speedy 60 second cycle time, and you have the right solution for quick-service restaurants.

King and her team leverage Computer Aided Design (CAD) programs to identify where a machine would work in any restaurant. “That’s an area where we differentiate ourselves,” King says. “We do all the work for restaurant brands in terms of how to retrofit a back-of-house and identify where everything can fit. We want operators to understand that this is possible.” 

Ecolab’s full portfolio of machines come with the expertise and support of Ecolab’s national service team, who are experts on the machine itself, as well as the overall warewashing program. The machine, along with the support from Ecolab’s team, help make restaurants more efficient. It is also a morale boost for team members and managers who don’t want to stay late washing wares after an already long day. 

“Having peace of mind, that we take care of everything with machine design, high performing products, and a robust service team, is hugely impactful to restaurant operators,” King says. “We understand the industry and how hard it is right now; we believe this solution is incredibly valuable for quick-service restaurants.” 

For more on the KAY QSR Machine Warewashing Program, visit

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