Wendy's New Redesign Hopes To Be Future-Proof

How Wendy's is changing its restaurants to keep up with the shifting fast food landscape.

Who knew that New Albany, Ohio, population 11,085, would be the site upon which to witness the fast food of the future? That's where you can get a look at the first newly redesigned Wendy's restaurant concept, arriving spring 2023. The chain is joining Taco Bell in giving its redesign an inadvertently menacing name: Global Next Gen, a reference to the "next-generation technology" informing the layout of the new space.

In the press release announcing Global Next Gen, Wendy's points to five main factors involved in the redesign, all of which will likely sound familiar to those keeping up with pandemic-impacted fast food trends:

  • A pick-up window exclusively for delivery drivers working for third-party services like DoorDash and Uber Eats, as well as a parking lot specifically for those drivers. Wendy's notes that these workers "previously needed to enter the dining room, to grab orders and go," so this move will ideally cut down the lines inside as well as the drive-thru lane outside. Wendy's also recently changed its french fry recipe specifically so that the fries would hold up better in transit when you get them for delivery.
  • A dedicated area inside the restaurant for mobile order pickup. Yes, there's a dedicated parking area for these folks, too; it will be interesting to see how honkin' big the Global Next Gen parking lots are, just to accommodate all these dedicated areas. (And will anyone actually be enforcing the rules of who can park where?) Anyone who orders Wendy's through the app will head toward a labeled shelf to retrieve their order, a feature already common at chains like Sweetgreen.
  • A reconfigured kitchen that spans the length of the restaurant from front to back, which the press release explains "increases efficiency and oversight for crew across all sales channels" and "provides the ability for crew to slide between positions more easily throughout the day."
  • Increased energy efficiency to lower both costs and carbon footprint.
  • Last, but not least, but definitely the most inscrutable: "Next Generation Technology." Wendy's explains that the Global Next Gen restaurants will be powered by "the next generation of modernized technology that works hard behind the scenes, allowing restaurant teams to handle significantly more digital business than before." Presumably this means Wendy's is rolling out something like a revamped point-of-sale system that can more intuitively organize a patchwork of dine-in, drive-thru, mobile pickup, and third-party-delivery orders. Or hey, maybe it means that Wendy's got itself a Flippy robot to help make the burgers!
  • "To accelerate our business and expand our footprint across the globe, we must consistently meet the needs of our customers however they chose to engage with Wendy's, whether that's through a digital platform or in the drive-thru," Wendy's president and CEO Todd Penegor said in a statement.

    One thing's for sure: with all these "dedicated areas" for the customer to navigate, the Global Next Gen Wendy's will be a boon to the signage industry.