Schlotzsky's New Look Focuses On Ordering Convenience

The pandemic has changed many things for many people: how we work, how we learn, and how we go about consuming food from restaurants and fast food chains. According to the annual National Restaurant Association's state of the industry report released in 2022, 54% of adults surveyed said that "purchasing takeout or delivery food is essential to the way they live." This stands in stark contrast to a survey conducted by Vixxo in late 2019, right before the lockdown, which revealed that 62% of Americans would rather eat at a restaurant, compared to the 34% on team takeout or delivery.

This pandemic-era change in dining habits has spurred the restaurant industry to respond accordingly. With more people using delivery apps and ordering food to go, per the Business of Apps, quick service restaurants like Schlotzsky's (which gave us the Joey Fatone NSYNC-inspired calzone) are taking this into consideration as they design their restaurants of the future. In fact, Schlotzsky's, famous for its muffaletta sandwiches, recently announced that it has opened its first convenience-focused "Design 1000" restaurant in Oklahoma City, and it definitely speaks to the times.

To sit or not to sit is no longer the question

According to a recent Schlotzsky's press release, the Design 1000, named for its square footage, has two drive-thrus placed on opposite sides of the restaurant. There is zero indoor seating, but you can use a walk-up ordering window if you prefer to see a human face when you request your sandwich. With 85% of Schlotzsky's total sales being gobbled down in the privacy of customers' cars, homes, offices, or an outdoor setting, the new seatless design may not feel like a huge experiential change for most patrons. In 2021, Reuters reported on the fast food trend of businesses focusing on carry-out, drive-thru, and delivery orders, noting they are not only more convenient for customers, but are also "generally more profitable." 

Interim chief brand officer of Schlotzsky's Shelley Harris told Restaurant Business, "Not having to clean the dining room, with a limited amount of labor, they can deploy that labor to the kitchen. That's helpful with speed of service, it gives relief to the kitchen staff." It also means you can start noshing on your favorite sandwich that much quicker. Additionally, the brand is hoping that the smaller space needed for a Schlotzsky's sandwich shop will be an incentive for future franchise owners who are faced with the rising costs of real estate.