I have never even considered a drive-thru for boneless chicken wings or riblets (“riblet” is a good word, maybe the best word, maybe we’ll name a new cat Riblet), but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for a fast-casual restaurant. Applebee’s believes this too: it’s experimenting in one location to see if this will work.
According to the trade publication Nation’s Restaurant News, one franchise owner in Texarkana, Texas, is giving it a shot by retrofitting an existing Applebee’s with a drive-thru window. It will be a model for future Applebee’s building designs and takeout processes, should all go well. Just like most newfangled operations, orders will be taken online or via mobile app, but you’ll also still be able to order by phone and pay in person. You just have to order in advance, and you’ll be given an estimated time for your order to be picked up.
This experiment will be ready to go early this year. The idea is that having the drive-thru window placed right by the kitchen will make it easier to serve customers as quickly as possible. Applebee’s has a pretty big menu, so there will probably be some challenges: it remains to be seen whether or not the Prime Rib Dipper will do well steamed in a to-go box. And I suppose you’re not going to get an actual sizzle platter for your fajitas, either.
Many Applebee’s locations have already created dedicated order pickup areas and have instituted contactless curbside pickup, so this isn’t a huge stretch by any means. A drive-thru Applebee’s? What’s next, robot cooks? Oh, wait.