LOS ANGELES—Sweetgreen is opening its first drive-thru concept location in, Schaumburg, Illinois, within the next year, according to a news release. The drive-thru is called “sweetlane,” and the new pilot restaurant will add convenience to digital customers, says Sweetgreen.
“We are always innovating to provide more convenience for our customers, which is why we’re excited about our first sweetlane concept in Schaumburg,” said Sweetgreen co-founder and Chief Concept Officer Nicolas Jammet. “Digital customers are our most habitual users, and we believe this new format will provide us with more options to connect people to real food.”
To utilize sweetgreen’s “sweetlane,” customers at the Schaumburg location will place orders in advance through sweetgreen’s digital platform. Almost 50% of Sweetgreen’s total revenue in 2021 came through orders placed on Sweetgreen’s mobile app or website, according to the company.
The space will also feature a round observation window for customers in their cars to watch the fresh prep as they pick up their orders, in an effort to bring the in-store experience to drive-thru digital customers. Pick up orders may also be placed inside the restaurant, where dine-in service will be available.
Last month, Jimmy John’s opened its first drive-thru only location in Bartow, Florida. The drive-thru restaurant design is new for the company and is a digital-forward approach that promotes mobile order pickup.
In December, Panera Bread opened a new restaurant with two drive-thru lanes—one lane specifically for the brand’s Rapid Pick-Up service.
Drive-thrus increasingly can be found at convenience stores, too, as customers prefer the service. In January 2021, Wawa opened its first stand-alone drive-thru experiment in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, with a single-lane drive-thru offering Wawa’s breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. Last March, 7-Eleven opened a Laredo Taco Company drive-thru restaurant at its 7-Eleven Evolution Store in Dallas. (Learn more about 7-Eleven’s Evolution stores’ food- and beverage-forward experience in the 2021 Ideas 2 Go video and this week’s Convenience Matters podcast episode.)
NACS Magazine dove into this topic in the article “Pass Through” and “Pandemic Pushes Design Rethink.” In the U.K., convenience and forecourt retailers are considering new business models to bring customers back into the store, and drive-thru and delivery are quickly emerging as the strongest contenders.