Jack in the Box is one of those regional chains that, depending on where you live, might be something you’re destined to yearn for ceaselessly. The San Diego–based fast food restaurant operated primarily along the west coast until 2005 when it announced new plans to expand nationally. Even today, there’s a dearth of locations in most states east of the Mississippi River. But that might soon change thanks to some big changes Jack in the Box has been implementing over the last two years.
There are a couple factors that have Jack in the Box poised to make a big expansion in 2023, according to QSR Magazine. The first is Jack in the Box’s acquisition of Del Taco, which amped up the company’s overall revenue. Because the menus of Jack in the Box and Del Taco are so compatible—a mixture of burgers, fries, tacos, and shakes feature heavily on both—it means that there are many locations that are prime for the combination model without needing to change much of the inventory. Del Taco is also currently more concentrated in the West Coast, but the expansion of Jack in the Box could be a two-for-one deal bringing Del Taco menu items to different parts of the country as well.
In October 2022, Jack in the Box announced its “CRAVED” store model for new locations, an acronym for “Cultural, Relevant, Authentic, Visible, Easy, and Distinctive.” What that actually looks like in practice is a location that takes up half the square footage of a typical Jack in the Box, one with a focus on drive-thru, pickup, and mobile orders. It’s not unlike the smaller, more tech-heavy model that McDonald’s is currently testing out, indicating an emerging trend in the fast food landscape at large. This change will not only cut expansion costs, but is meeting the customer where they have always been—for Jack in the Box specifically, pre-pandemic drive-thru business accounted for 70% of all sales, and that figure has since risen to 85%.
The CRAVED model also accommodates Jack in the Box’s recent investment in robotics. The chain is one of the few that has gone all in on Miso Robotic’s Flippy 2, another cost-saving measure that will allow for more expansion. These robotic employees are especially helpful when it comes to staffing enough to maintain Jack in the Box’s 24-hour, all-menus-all-day model, one of the things that sets it apart from other fast food chains.
As of now, there are around 2,200 Jack in the Box locations in the United States, but chief development officer Tim Linderman tells QSR Magazine that he sees the potential for 6,000 restaurants across the country. Soon we’ll all be able to enjoy all-day breakfast, tacos with curly fries, and all the other unique joys that the chain has to offer.