Today’s fast food restaurants face stiff challenges on every front from their competitors. Burger King and Wendy’s have already both remodeled their French Fries to make them more “natural”, in keeping with today’s healthier food trends. This, in addition to constant new menu items and healthier choices, such as McDonalds’ new Happy Meal options for children, reflect a changing era for traditional fast food enterprises. It’s no surprise then that structural design has become the next facet of these companies to modernize for the 21st Century.
Chipotle was the first to structure their locations based on a model reflecting the Denver-based fast food chains core values and principles. When Chipotle chose to expand their locations, they based their model off their core business philosophy, “simple materials put together creatively”. The concept has an industrial feel, but leaves room for each individual storefront to be designed. The materials used in all 1100 locations are elemental, but used together creatively in Bruce Gueswel wall-art and individual decorations. With concrete, stainless steel and birch wood, Chipotle has managed to mirror the concept of natural ingredients in their foods.
Wendy’s is currently testing four different prototypes for a new store model in different cities. The prototypes range from traditional to ultra-modern with ten new stores in five cities, and Wendy’s carefully monitoring feedback from each location. The new changes include tiled floors rather than carpeting and more varied seating styles, such as lounge seats. These changes, coupled with a slew of new menu items mark a new era for Wendy’s that some believe could propel the company into the number two fast food slot, right behind McDonald’s.
McDonald’s has been experimenting with new designs as well, updating its France location with beautiful Parisian décor. Other brands have been toying with design changes as well, including Burger King and Subway. Something each of these companies is looking to fulfill with their new designs is customer satisfaction beyond initial appeal. While it’s easy for a business to create a new design that customers are initially pleased with, the real goal is to create a design that succeeds in the long run and keeps customer pleased months later. In today’s economy fast food restaurants have emerged as an affordable staple food source for many Americans and modernizing their design just acts to instill them in our culture.
Chipotle has already experienced enormous success in its store design, rapidly expanding every day. Chipotle has also incorporated sustainable architecture to their buildings, with recycling programs, tankless water heaters, high-efficiency appliances, and durable and non-toxic products. At one location in Illinois the store generate 5% of its own electricity and was the first restaurant ever awarded Platinum Level LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. Changes like these have helped Chipotle become perfectly acclimated to the current expectations of their customers, a trend that more fast food restaurants are heavily investing in.
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