The Burger King of the future will revolve around drive-thrus and pick-up windows

Chowing down on a flame-grilled Whopper at Burger King may be a different experience after COVID-19.

This week, Burger King parent company Restaurant Brands International (QSR) gave investors a peek into the future of the burger seller. Think of a completely touchless ordering experience for germ-fearing diners, headlined by a walk-up window for orders and three drive-thrus (one for delivery drivers picking up mobile orders for customers).

One of the two touchless ordering prototype restaurants put forth by BK has no indoor dining. Nope, you can either grab your burger and fries at the window or go through the drive-thru and park the car under a canopy (sort of like Sonic). Both options keep a person removed from crowds where who knows what type of germs live.

Restaurant Brands COO Josh Kobza told Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade not to expect these attention- grabbing locations to immediately replace BK’s more than 18,800 restaurants worldwide overnight. But the designs will slowly be incorporated into remodels and new builds. Some of the first prototypes with the new designs will be built next year in Miami, Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Over the last few years we have been investing a lot in technology and design as the pace of change in restaurants has been speeding up a lot. And those investments became even more important with the pandemic this year,” Kobza explained. “We have seen an acceleration in digital adoption within the restaurant space and we are bringing it all together in some of these new formats and designs. We are going to bring these to our guests in the U.S. and all around the world starting next year with a lot of our new development and a lot of our remodels.”

Burger King unveils touchless restaurant design. Credit: Restaurant Brands
Burger King unveils touchless restaurant design. Credit: Restaurant Brands

The new look of BK will go a long way to firing up stronger sales at the chain as it moves beyond the pandemic.

BK’s comparable store sales fell 13.4% in the second quarter amid closures of indoor dining and people cooking their own food under quarantine. Comparable store sales fared better at Restaurant Brands’ Popeyes in the quarter, with the chain’s popular fried chicken sandwich powering a 24.8% sales gain. Canadian-based coffee chain Tim Horton’s, another Restaurant Brands-owned business, saw comparable store sales drop 29.3% in the quarter.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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