Restaurant Reinvention: Strategies for Success in 2023

A Time of Rapid Change and Rapid Evolution

Restaurant Reinvention: Strategies for Success in 2023

Restaurants, notoriously slow to evolve, have had to fully reinvent themselves in the last couple of years. They’ve embraced large-scale delivery models, rethinking their entire operations, reimagined their entire operations, and navigated labor shortages and supply chain challenges. As the dust begins to settle, what changes are here to stay? And how can restaurants position themselves for success in 2023? To answer these questions, we turned to consumers for insights.

One area where restaurants have made innovative strides is at the drive-thru. Surprisingly, this staple of American dining, used by 74% of Americans at least once a month, has seen minimal innovation since its invention in the 1960s.However, after consulting consumers, it turns out that extravagant 3-story drive-thrus, robot deliveries, and mega drive-thru designs may not be the key to success. What consumers truly desire is quick order fulfillment, a seamless pickup or delivery experience, and consistent quality (such as hot food and accurate orders). IN essence, they prioritize speed, convenience, and reliability. Instead of elaborate drive-thru structures, the focus should be on optimizing operations, including intuitive wayfinding, app adoption, automation, and reimagining the guest journey. Break this down with us in our POV, Drive-Thru Break-Through, or by listening to our WDCast episode with WD’s SVP of Operations Strategy, and Design, Joanne Heyob.

Drive-Thru Break-Through POV

Drive-Thru Break-Through POV by WD Partners

2022 was yet another year of learning, testing, and adapting in the restaurant world as restaurants continued to ride waves of uncertainty and panic. A significant post-pandemic trend was the surge of delivery and mobile ordering, with projections for 2023 indicating that delivery channels alone will account for 40% of restaurant sales. We talked to 1,500 consumers understand what they want from their favorite restaurants in a post-pandemic world, and it’s not surprise that pickup emerged as a top choice, with 79%, 80%, and 65% of respondents saying that pickup is a must in quick-service, fast-casual, and full-service restaurants, respectively. Don’t go knocking out all your dining rooms yet. Dining rooms still hold value for a significant portion of consumers. Instead of abandoning dining rooms entirely, our data suggests considering how to optimize operations and allocate resources to meet the diverse needs of all consumers. Read about the details of our study and our recommendations for how restaurants can optimize their space and minimize the impact of future disturbances to the industry in this POV.

Dine-O-Mite POV by WD Partners

TikTok Kitchen, Say What?

Some forward-thinking brands have fully embraced digital and delivery innovations, revolutionizing the food service landscape. Names like Chipotle, Taco Bell, and even TikTok have pioneered innovative restaurant concepts, launching digital- and delivery-only stores. These formats offer opportunities to reduce square footage, streamline back-of-house operations, and address fulfillment challenges. Read more about these forward thinkers here.

TikTok Kitchen - Say What? Wayfind Article by WD Partners

Restaurant Mashup

Identifying what your local customers want, and the bottlenecks and pain points in your operations, are necessary steps to building brand loyalty and staying competitive. However, with thousands of restaurant choices and consumers eager to regain some of the dining experiences they missed during lockdowns, there is also a need to infuse emotion and energy back into restaurants, focusing on the overall consumer experience. “Where’s the excitement? The passion?” WD’s EVP of Creative, Jay Highland asks. Explore his article Restaurant Mashup: 2’s Better than 1to read about some of his creative ideas for how to reignite that spark.

Operation Overhaul and Enhanced Customer Experience: It’s Achievable

A full reinvention may seem daunting, but it’s not impossible, especially with expert guidance. Reach out to us at to learn about our industry expertise and how we can help you in creating memorable, functional experiences for your customers and staff.

About Wayfind

Lost and in need of guidance? That’s why we created Wayfind—the WD blog designed to be your beacon in this rapidly evolving world. In these short, thought-provoking reads, you’ll discover insights into the minds of your consumers and be inspired to go out into the world to create your own extraordinary experiences.

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