McDonald’s Test Store Streamlines Drive-Thru and Delivery

There’s an order-ahead lane outfitted with a conveyer belt and space for couriers to pick up food for delivery.

December 05, 2022

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—McDonald’s is testing a new drive-thru innovation at a test restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas, where customers who order ahead through the QSR’s app can use a designated lane and receive their food and drinks via a conveyor, and team members can start preparing orders once customers are near the restaurant.

“At McDonald’s, we’ve been setting the standard for Drive Thrus for more than 45 years,” said Max Carmona, senior director, global design and restaurant development, McDonald’s. “As our customers' needs continue to change, we are committed to finding new ways to serve them faster and easier than ever before.”

Smaller than a traditional U.S. McDonald’s restaurant, the test concept restaurant is geared toward on-the-go customers who don’t plan to eat on-site and also couriers to quickly pick up customer orders for delivery.

Inside the restaurant, there’s a courier-designated pickup room and shelves for customers to retrieve their food after ordering via kiosk. Outside, parking spaces are dedicated to curbside order pickup, as well as designated parking spaces for delivery drivers.

McDonald’s says the enhanced technology it is testing “makes for a better crew and customer experience.” One plus is that team members can begin working on order-head customers’ orders when they’re near the restaurant.

The app updates, food and beverage conveyor and new kitchen format all streamline operations—leading to a fast, seamless experience for both customers and crew, McDonald’s says.

“The technology in this restaurant not only allows us to serve our customers in new, innovative ways, it gives our restaurant team the ability to concentrate more on order speed and accuracy, which makes the experience more enjoyable for everyone,” explains Keith Vanecek, the franchisee operating the test restaurant.

The enhancements are all “test and learn” for now at just one location near Fort Worth, Texas. The test is part of McDonald’s “Accelerating the Arches” growth strategy, first shared in 2020.

Chick-fil-A, meanwhile, has been testing dedicated drive-thru express lanes at about 60 U.S. locations for mobile-order customers who use the QSR’s app to help limit wait times by allowing them to bypass the regular drive-thru line to pick up their meal.

Once at the restaurant, customers follow signs to the express lane, use the app to scan a QR code in the dedicated lane, and then pull around to receive their order from a restaurant team member.

“We see this as a way to serve customers more effectively and give them more control over their experience,” said Jonathan Lassiter, a senior integration leader on Chick-fil-A’s Service and Hospitality team. “The lengthiest part of our drive-thru ordering process is the brief wait to get your order taken. The express lane cuts down ordering and payment time significantly, granting customers access to greater speed, ease and convenience when they want it most.”

Read how convenience retailers like Jiffy Trip and EG Group are managing the drive-thru experience in “Drive-Thru Advantage” in the September 2022 issue of NACS Magazine.