Drive Thru, the Huddle House Way
The full-service chain is including a drive thru in its new store prototype in an effort toreach more transient consumers.By Sam Oches | March 8, 2011
The recession helped to blur the line between the quick-serve and casual-diningsegments, as price points and service techniques jumped the industry fence in the
competition for diners‟ dollars. But one full
-service chain, Huddle House, decided thatwith its new store design, it would firmly plant one foot on either side of that fence.
Huddle House‟s newest store pr
ototype, while maintaining a table-service dining room,dives deep into quick service with the implementation of a drive thru.
“[It‟s a] chance to capture some of that traffic that maybe doesn‟t have the time to sitdown and … have their meal,” says Jim Bu
llock, director of franchise development forAtlanta-based Huddle House.The Huddle House drive thru
which the chain dubbed the Huddle Thru, and which willdebut in October
will maintain the same kind of speed customers might get at any other drive thru, Bullock says, but will serve thesame type of comfort diner food customers have come to expect from the chain.The Huddle Thru, however, will feature a separate menu from the dining room to maintain speed of service. Items include Pot Roast,Chicken and Dumplings, Baked Chicken, and Sweet Potato Casserole. There will also be a number of breakfast options, like a BreakfastQuesadilla.The operations of Huddle House were redesigned to include both a cook-to-order method for dine-in consumers and a batch-and-holdmethod for the Huddle Thru.By offering the same kind of Huddle House food to a new kind of consumer
notably on-the-go, transient consumers
Bullock says the
Huddle Thru will help expand the chain‟s reach.
“People might be willing to try something new if they‟re able to just get in and out,” Bullock says. “Once we get them through there,they‟re going to start coming back for the rest of the menu.”
New real estate will also help the Huddle Thru expand the company‟s reach. Bullock says that while Huddle H
ouse stores are typically located in smaller, more rural communities, units with a Huddle Thru will be directed at larger markets.The first Huddle Thru is set to debut in October on the Fort Benning Military Base in Georgia.Using the name
for the new concept may have been a big save for Huddle House. John Miologos,executive vice president of architecture, engineering & construction management at WD Partners, says the words
imply quick service that could short
change a casual concept‟s dining experience.
Miologos says a casual-dining concept with a drive thru creates disconnect from the consumer. He says if a casual restaurant wants toadd speed and convenience, it should add curbside pick-up, which he says has been a hit with fast casuals.
“If casuals were going to borrow, they would borrow from fast casual versus going all the way to
quick service,” he says. “I wouldsupport a one step down versus a two step down.”
But Miologos says that any way a restaurant can save the consumer time is a good thing.