Changing consumer demand and increasingly high construction costs are strongly influencing the design of Fast Food restaurants. Discover the top 5 trends that are emerging now.


While COVID-19 may have accelerated changes, there’s no denying Australian consumption of take-away and fast food options has been evolving. It’s now affecting the way Fast Food restaurants are being designed and these trends are set to continue.

So if you are planning more restaurant sites, what should you be considering to future-proof your design? Here are the top 5 trends we’re implementing for our clients:


Trend #1:  ROI of store locations is increasingly important

Downward pressures on the unit price per menu item is continuing to impact profit margins. On the other hand, site and construction costs are continuing to rise – particularly in Australia. As a result, more and more food franchises are closely investigating a new site’s likely return on investment before making the commitment to expand.


Trend #2:  Maximising site efficiency

The kitchen operations area of most fast food chains are already optimised, so now franchisors are looking at other areas to improve site efficiency. With increasing demand for home delivery services and drive-thru options, in-store dining has rapidly decreased – especially during COVID. Accordingly, the size of in-store dining areas are reducing.

This is expected to be a long-term, permanent trend and the impact to lowering construction costs is significant as it also affects the amount of area (and therefore budget) dedicated to:

  • Dining
  • Parking
  • Play-ground and
  • Facilities such as toilets

Reducing the size of these areas also provides lower operating costs for franchisees due to reductions in staff numbers and cleaning costs.


Trend #3:  Increased investment in technology

Giving customers more control over their order is providing unexpected benefits. Evidence is building that automated ordering systems (where the customer places their own order into the system), increases the average spend per customer. As a result, this type of technological investment is demonstrating it will pay for itself.

Technology is also reducing mistakes with drive-thru orders as franchises invest in systems which record a vehicle’s registration number as the order is placed. This ensures the correct order is given to the right drive-thru customer.


Trend #4:  More drive-thru lanes

Fast food sales continue to increase despite fewer people eating in-store. Instead, customers are consuming meals on the run or using Apps to pre-order their meals for collection. To accommodate the additional collection traffic, Fast Food restaurants are now being designed to accommodate more drive-thru lanes and collection points.


Trend #5:  Shared facilities

Site partnerships are an emerging trend where individual, non-competing businesses are merging resources to offer a fast food outlet with another service – all on the one site. Petrol stations and drive-thru food outlets are becoming a familiar sight. We anticipate with more emphasis on site ROI and the increasing costs of store construction and fitout, more franchises will combine forces to minimise overheads while increasing customer convenience.


Future success means careful planning now

There are many reasons to choose Northcroft to assist you with your next commercial project. One great reason is their incredible insights during the feasibility and planning stages.


If you are a franchise planning for future growth, get in touch with Northcroft.