QSRs Reducing In-Store Dining Space, Emphasizing Drive-Through Lanes


McDonald’s Corporation will soon introduce “CosMc’s”, a small-format store with a small dining area.  By reducing size and hence cost of locations, McDonald’s believes it can expand in high-density population areas to take advantage of underserved patronage.  Concurrently, McDonald’s is emphasizing drive-thru sales and is introducing a number of technological innovations to expedite customer service, especially at the breakfast and early-dinner hours.


These changes, also contemplated by competitors, derive in large measure from the patterns of travel, work and social interaction originating during the COVID period and by most measures  persisting into the future.


As a direct consequence of reduced in-store dining, McDonald’s intends to remove their self-serve soda dispensers by the end of 2032, almost a decade into the future.


Chipotle and Subway will be the losers in this QSR transition since most of their locations lack drive-through lanes.  Chipotle has had difficulty in establishing an image of whether it is, in reality, a QSR, a cafeteria or a casual dining restaurant. On appointment as CEO, Brian Niccol, previously president of Taco Bell, recognized the competitive need for drive through lanes. Promotion of digital sales with pickup or home delivery and the installation of “Chipotlanes” is now contributing to greater consumer convenience and traffic.