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Chick-fil-A testing new restaurant concepts, first to open next year

One of the restaurants won't even have cash registers. The other will have cars driving under the building to get their food.

WASHINGTON — A popular fast food chain is trying a new approach to serving food, with two new restaurant design concepts being developed near Atlanta and New York City. 

Chick-fil-A announced Thursday it's planning two new locations to test an elevated drive-thru and digital walk-up concept. The restaurant with the elevated drive-thru will be built in the Atlanta metro area, with the walk-up concept built in New York City. 

Both locations are scheduled to open in 2024 and are part of an attempt to improve the drive-thru and mobile ordering experiences, Chick-fil-A said in a statement. 

“Understanding this desire for convenience, the locations for these tests were intentionally selected with the customers in mind, giving them more control over their desired experience and cutting down wait-time, while continuing to provide genuine hospitality and care to every guest," said  Khalilah Cooper, the company's executive director of  restaurant design, in the announcement. 

The drive-thru concept will have the kitchen seated directly above the drive-thru, allowing cars to pass under the building, stopping to collect their food as it is sent down to them. Employees will still deliver the food to the cars, executives promised in a video showing off the restaurant concepts.

According to the company, their initial concept for the elevated restaurant has four drive-thru lanes. 

Credit: Chick-fil-A
Chick-fil-A says it's opening a new elevated drive-thru concept in the Atlanta metro area in 2024.

The other test Chick-fil-A is running involves mobile orders. That concept restaurant won't have cash registers or other ways to buy food in the restaurant itself. Instead, it will be a pickup hub for customers to order through the mobile app. When they reach the store, their food should be ready to go. 

Credit: Chick-fil-A
Chick-fil-A says it's planning to test a new walk-up design concept for a location in New York City.

“Digital orders make up more than half of total sales in some markets – and growing – so we know our customers have an appetite for convenience,” said Cooper. 

Chick-fil-A isn't the first fast food company to test out novel ways to deliver meals. 

Taco Bell earlier this year launched a two-story restaurant in Minneapolis that has a similar concept to the restaurant Chick-fil-A is bringing to Atlanta. 

The Taco Bell restaurant is also elevated above four drive-thru lanes. But the Mexican food chain's lines are all for different purposes.

There are lines for customers who preorder their Crunchwrap Supremes and Quesaritos ahead of time on the Taco Bell app, a spot for delivery drivers to pull up and quickly grab orders made with third-party partners, and then a single traditional drive-thru lane.

Unlike the Chick-fil-A restaurant, nobody hands over the food at the Taco Bell Instead, orders are lowered down to your car.

Credit: Gage Cureton, KARE 11
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"The guest comes in, they pull up to the arrival monitor and they scan their phone. It checks in for orders prepared and assigns it to a lane. Once the order is assigned to the lane, we just verify the customer's name, we lift up the top of the lift, put the food in, push the two buttons and it's on its way," explained Jarret Persons, regional manager for Border Foods, which owns 170 Taco Bell locations, including the unique Minneapolis one. 

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