KFC proves willingness to try new operating models
with drive-thru concept in Australia
International retail design firm FRCH NELSON partnered with KFC SOPAC to design a pilot drive-thru store in Newcastle, Australia. With a growing number of consumers ordering online, the new concept showcases a more efficient operating model that celebrates this change in consumer behavior.
The new concept includes five drive-thru lanes that allow customers to order and pay for a meal through the brand’s app or website; it includes designated lanes for traditional, on-the-spot orders. For online orders, customers can drive up and enter an app-generated four-digit code on a touchscreen; the system sends the order to the kitchen, where it is freshly prepared for collection.
With no public-facing interior, the brand is celebrated on the building’s exterior. “With traditional restaurants, the building is the experience, but with this new concept, it became a fixture – one element supporting the overall experience. We had to utilize every exterior touchpoint from the landscaping, to the signage, to the architecture of the drive-thru portal, to create a holistic experience for guests,” says Marty McCauley, design director at FRCH NELSON.
The design creates a holistic drive-thru experience, leveraging architecture, communication, service, and landscape to create an elevated guest experience.
Guests are first greeted by a larger-than-life halo-lit Colonel Sanders layered atop the building’s wood-cladded walls, complete with lit branding on the wall. Once guests pull around, the drive-thru portal’s bold architecture creates a true beacon for the experience. “The portal architecture was an opportunity to create an ownable element for the brand. We needed a bold moment that dialed up the scale since the entire guest journey is taking place within a car,” says McCauley. The repetition of the red stripes reinforces the brand, while the outline is a wink toward the restaurant’s signature chicken bucket. The subtle slope of both the building and the drive-thru portal provides gentle encouragement of guest direction, queuing drivers from order to pickup.
The overall design reflects the brand’s signature hospitality, while offering moments of the Colonel’s signature feistiness, leveraging natural materials in conjunction with steel and glazing. The architectural elements play hero and exude the brand’s confidence in delivering an unforgettable guest experience. The branded celebration leverages contrast and vibrancy through architecture, color, and communication to proclaim a distinctly kinetic, ownable bastion of service and convenience.