Sweetgreen will management a drive-in restaurant as a part of an on-site push

The salad restaurant chain Sweetgreen will open its first location with a thoroughfare and order from parking spaces next year as it expands beyond the cities into the American suburbs.

It joins the deluge of restaurant companies to unveil new designs inspired by the coronavirus pandemic. Fast food chains like Taco Bell from Yum Brands and Burger King from Restaurant Brands International have geared their new designs to make delivery and digital ordering even more convenient.

However, the fast-casual segment, which includes Sweetgreen and Chipotle Mexican Grill, has been influenced by the success of the drive-through lanes. Drive-through orders across the restaurant industry rose 24% in October, according to The NPD Group. Like Sweetgreen, Shake Shack will open its first thoroughfare in 2021. And Chipotle, who has been building its “Chipotlanes” for several years, plans to sell even more drive-through lanes in these restaurants than they do in the same store, exceeding the rest of its footprint.

Sweetgreen’s pilot restaurant is slated to open next winter at the Highlands Ranch in Colorado. Drive-thru customers order their salads and warm bowls with the Sweetgreen mobile app.

Although the vaccine was inspired by the pandemic, it may have stopped the spread of Covid-19 even before the concept was launched.

However, Co-CEO Nic Jammet said, “Many of our customers already have the behavior of using the Sweetgreen app to order in advance and come in advance to collect them.”

Even before the global health crisis, more than 50% of Sweetgreen transactions were digital orders, which increased venture capital interest in the privately owned chain. The company’s final funding round in 2019 was $ 1.6 billion. Sweetgreen told the New York Times that its 2019 earnings exceeded $ 300 million. During the crisis, digital channels grew by more than 70%.

Customers who want to order from the comfort of their car when they arrive at the restaurant can do so in special parking lots with intercoms under a solar-clad overhang, similar to Sonic Drive-In.

Because of the differences to a traditional drive-thru restaurant, the chain calls the design “drive-in”. Customers who want to eat their salads in the restaurant can either eat in the car or on an outdoor terrace. The design of the restaurant also features exterior windows that allow passers-by to see the kitchen and food preparation area from their car.

According to Jammet, Sweetgreen has thought about thoroughfares for years, driven by the idea of ​​making healthy foods as convenient as burgers and fries. The pilot also comes as the chain pushes its suburban expansion after spending its early years focusing on urban markets.

“During Covid, our work has definitely sped up and we said, ‘Now is our time,'” said Jammet. “Our customers’ behavior is changing even faster … and as we move into more of these suburbs and open up in new cities and neighborhoods, it just seemed like something we should finally really focus on.”

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