Restaurant Development & Design

JUL-AUG 2018

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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It's clearly not just limited-service restaurants that could benefit from a more data-driven approach. Information that's readily available to all brands often just isn't tapped or analyzed for applica- tions beyond operations and marketing. That's a missed opportunity, Arcieri says. Online reservation and seating systems, for instance, show party size, wait times, requests for seating in particular areas or for particular types of seating, all of which can inform a host of design deci- sions when that type of data is tracked over time. Gensler recently designed a new prototype for Burger Boys, a legacy brand in San Antonio whose new owners plan multi-unit expansion. While the operator wasn't able to provide much in the way of quantitative data beyond sales on which to base design decisions, Arcieri's team undertook extensive on-site and customer research to determine how best to give the iconic 1960s, 800-square-foot, 8-stool burger joint a fresh new look and add operational efficiencies needed to handle the 1,000-plus-burger-a-day volume. "Sales data showed they do a ton of drive-thru, and simple observation showed that people had to stand in lines between the eight stools at the counter to place their orders. There was no place to wait," Arcieri says. "We ended up doubling the unit size. We added space for interior seating and created a queue line that follows the outer wall of the building and comes around to the coun- ter. We also increased the kitchen size and expanded the drive-thru area. The redesign opened about 30 days ago, so we're now collecting a lot of quantitative and qualitative data on how it's perform- ing, which will be used to inform the next unit's design." The big trick with data, no matter where it comes from, is ferreting out the nuggets that matter most for driving specific design decisions. And with ever- increasing amounts of data available, it can be tough to avoid what WD's Seely and Baxter call "analysis paralysis" and/ or the temptation to over-operationalize, ultimately losing sight of the real con- sumer and the experience you're trying to create. "It's pretty easy in this data-centric environment to fall into over-analyzing and relying on data when sometimes the best insights can be gained by simply engag- ing with and observing customers," Baxter notes. "You need a balance of 'here's what the data tells us' and 'here's what consum- ers say, or what we know about them from qualitative research.' It all has to work in tandem to create really good designs and really good experiences." +

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