Restaurant Development & Design

NOV-DEC 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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9 0 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8 MCALISTER'S RETURNS TO ITS ROOTS a response to the off-premise trend, the building also includes features meant to leverage this shift in dining habits. The prototype includes a drive-up window for pickup orders. Not only does this make McAlister's appealing to those who want to eat off-premise, says Krivanek, but it also should appeal to "busy balancers" — parents with kids, jobs, and everything that entails, who make up an important part of the chain's customer base. It's important to note the window is not entirely new to McAlister's. About 10 percent of the company's existing restaurants have such a window, says Krivanek. Going forward, though, the chain expects the window to be a stan- dard feature for McAlister's restaurants, real estate permitting. This window represents more than just a window. McAlister's has taken the opportunity to upgrade and leverage technology to improve the drive-up guest experience. A touch screen near the win- dow allows customers to check in as they pull up. This not only speeds service but it also allows team members to dispense drinks, including the chain's signature sweet tea, essentially on demand. "That comes back to the fact that we want to pour our beverages just as the guest is arriving. We want to make sure the tea is as fresh as it can be, serve them as soon as they get to the window and then they can be on their way," Krivanek says. The drive-up window isn't the chain's only accommodation for those who want to take their food away. As soon as guests enter the restaurant they'll „nd a set of shelves to their left. At this station, staff place to-go orders that guests pay for in advance. Nota- bly, these shelves sit in the front of the house and do not require a staff member to help guests retrieve their orders. To encourage honesty, these shelves reside next to the POS counter, in full view of front-of-the-house team members. The POS area, as well, was rede- signed in this new prototype. The tiled space in front of the counter boasts a "Q-bert" style pattern to help it stand out, while the sweet tea containers, which used to sit on the back coun- ter, now occupy a front position. This, says Krivanek, encourages interaction between guests and employees and plays a role in McAlister's providing "genuine hospitality." The biggest change to the POS area, though, involves its connection to the kitchen immediately behind it. Instead of a standard wall, the chain has put in translucent glass panels that show the kitchen's activity without having it fully on display. "We wanted to show you the activity. We have a lot of pride in the crew members that are deliver- ing thatŠsimple, elevated food from our kitchen, and we wanted to open that up a bit more," says Krivanek. For guests who want to stay and enjoy their food after ordering, the chain offers a bright space with wood-style ce- ramic Œooring and a color palette featur- ing blues and oranges. Since McAlister's wants to be a community gathering place, the chain also offers a variety of seating options that meet all sorts of needs: patio seating, booths, Œoating tables, a banquette and the restaurant's new community table. While many operations have added community tables recently, this one is built into the structure. McAlister's Project Team Project lead: Micky Boeckl, VP Design & Construction; Justin Krivanek, Director of Brand Positioning Activa- tion, McAlister's Architect: GPD Group General contractor: Integra Construction Kitchen supplier: Trimark Interior design: Sterling Rice Group and Lauren Taliaferro, Director of Design, McAlister's; Margarita Sandino, Design Manager; Ryan Wagner, Creative Director; Robert Dimson, VP of Marketing; Jessica Osborne, Director of Marketing Kitchen design: Shelley Harris, VP of Operations; Craig Forbes, Sr. Ops Services Manager; Margarita Sandino, Design Manager; Michael Freeman, Sr. Director of Company Operations The community table in McAlister's new prototype not only serves as seating, but it also helps break up the space without relying on a wall to create different zones.

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