The Rise of the Retrofit for Quick Service Restaurants
Fast-food restaurant brands across the nation including Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC, and Taco Bell are getting a face lift. Many retrofit programs are being adopted to help update overall brand appeal to consumers, with a special focus on millennials. Millennials are increasingly valuing the atmosphere of a restaurant over how much the meal will cost them. While Quick Service Restaurants often offer food a lower price level, millennials are turning towards restaurants where they can sit and enjoy the meal in a cozy, modern environment. Fast-food restaurants are taking note and shaking it up with new designs for their stores across the country.
As a recent Adweek Article writes, reliable food and quick service is not enough to satisfy the millennial audience. They also want to dine in a pleasant, well-designed environment. As millennials represent more than a quarter of the nation’s population, fast-food chains consider them an important part of their target audience. These restaurants are beginning to create more appealing environments that are similar to what millennials are finding in popular fast-casual restaurants such as Panera and Chipotle.
One brand who has redefined their restaurant image through a robust retrofit program is Burger King. They have a nationwide reimage program that was put in place to modernize their locations and reach a larger consumer base. The program targets both the interior and exterior of the restaurant, creating an environment for consumers, especially millennials, to be more comfortable in. The program has seen positive results connected to the retrofit including increased sales in remodeled restaurants.
Burger King partners with Nichiha for the exterior remodel of their locations. They use several different Nichiha fiber cement Architectural Wall Panels including TuffBlock, VintageWood and CanyonBrick to bring a modern look to their buildings’ exteriors. This goes along with the interior remodel which also features updated building materials, soft lighting, and cozy places to sit and enjoy meals.
John Kayser, Director of Construction for Tri-City Food, Inc. (Burger King Franchisee), describes how Nichiha cladding helps achieve overall branding goals for the company saying, “We are extremely pleased with the results and positive feedback we have received on the appearance of the building since retrofit. The Nichiha products used for our renovation enabled us to create a significant visual improvement to both the interior and exterior of our facility, using a simple cost-effective application method from one source.”
Taco Bell has also set its sights on rebranding current restaurants. They have unveiled 4 new restaurant design models that will be impacting both new builds and remodels through 2022. The 4 restaurant design models titled Heritage, Modern Explorer, California Sol, and Urban Edge each incorporate trendy and modern materials to create unique dining environments that are sure to appeal to customers, including the important millennial group.
As a Business Insider article writes, there are a few things that the fast-food remodels have in common. Many restaurant brands are focusing on bold color and bright designs to change the consumer conception of fast-food chains being drab and dirty. Restaurants are featuring ultra-modern aesthetics but also tapping into customers’ senses of authenticity and nostalgia with use of interior décor. They are also focusing on highlighting food preparation with open kitchen designs to create consumer trust.
Fast-food restaurants will continue to spend billions investing in something that isn’t food. Although the price is steep, the return on restaurant remodels is worth the cost to stay ahead in a competitive market with an evolving target audience. Retrofits will continue to spring up across the country with consumers getting a fresh experience at a familiar place.
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