The world’s first KFC drive-thru only restaurant opened in the New South Wales regional town of Newcastle on Wednesday.
Built on a site the business owns at 80 Lambton Road, Broadmeadow, the concept store is branded Kentucky Fried Chicken.
This represents a marketing back-flip: the fast food chain renamed itself KFC globally about 30 years ago to distance itself from the unhealthy word fried.
It didn’t change its menu, though.
The Newcastle store will trade between 10am and midnight, seven days a week.
It includes eight lanes – three of them allocated solely for pre-orders (KFC has in recent years connected itself to popular home delivery services including Deliveroo, MenuLog, Uber Eats and Doordash, the latter which we reported only established in Australia in September).
KFC intends for its Broadmeadow customers to pre-order via the restaurant’s App – which was launched five years ago – or by scanning a QR code on the company website.
It is trying to migrate users after its studies revealed customers at present felt pressured to choose quickly (and presumably didn’t order as much) at drive-thru menu boards.
KFC said digital ordering has become more popular in Australia, with 68 million online food orders made each year, amounting to 7000 every hour.
Last year’s annual spend, it estimated, was about $2.6 billion.
“With the demand for speedy service and efficiency soaring in Australia, customers will now be able to order and pay for a KFC meal…before arriving at the Drive Thru Only restaurant,” a company spokeswoman said.
“Upon arrival Drive Thru Only customers will enter a unique four-digit code generated by the KFC App or KFC website on a touchscreen receiver, transmitting their order to the kitchen, where it will be…freshly prepared, ready for pick-up at the next window.
“With five lanes dedicated to feeding chicken-loving Newcastle fans, two lane will have traditional order options, alongside three online pick-up lanes, meaning everyone can experience the convenience of Drive Thru Only“.
Despite the ‘drive-thru only’ marketing, there is also a small store for clients who want to dine-in at 80 Lambton Road.
The Kentucky Fried Chicken drive-thru sits midway between two traditional KFC regional restaurants.
KFC chief executive officer said “with the eyes on the world watching to see its success, the Drive Thru Only restaurant in Newcastle will be a trial for potential rollout across Australia in the near future”.
Next year KFC plans to open another drive-thru ‘only’ in Mount Gambier, South Australia, close to the Victorian border.
Its move comes 41 years since McDonald’s opened its first Australian drive-thru – attached to a restaurant in Warrawong, New South Wales.
McDonald’s had only opened its first international drive-thru, in Arizona, three years earlier, in 1975.