Captain D’s hopes to appeal to COVID-19 diners with new format

Published on
November 12, 2020

Captain D’s is introducing a smaller restaurant prototype called Express, which will likely help it appeal to the new American diner whose habits have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Captain D’s Express format has no indoor dining rooms. Instead, it features walk-up windows for ordering and pick-up, along with drive-throughs.

In addition, the prototype has an average footprint of 960 square feet, compared to the restaurant chain’s standard 44-seat, 1,964-square-foot model. It is designed to fit within small spaces in metropolitan areas with high population densities.

“The new prototype’s design reflects extensive guest feedback showcasing an increased demand for enhanced drive-thru and takeout options, as well as Captain D’s overall goal to provide franchisees with flexibility to develop the restaurant footprint best suited for their markets,” the company said in a press release.

Restaurants’ take-out and delivery services have boomed across the country since the start of the pandemic, when indoor dining restrictions began. And, with some cities such as San Francisco, California, re-closing dining rooms, due to a second surge of the virus this fall, takeout and delivery orders are expected to increase even further. In fact, 66 percent of Americans said they ordered takeout or delivery for dinner in the past week, according to a recent National Restaurant Association survey, while 47 percent ordered takeout or delivery for lunch.

While the new restaurant layout matching well with current trends in the foodservice sector, Captain D’s actually developed the Express prototype long before the pandemic. Executives said the new plan was the result of customer feedback and following evolving real estate trends, according to Phil Russo, vice president of real estate for Captain D’s.

“Pre-COVID-19, 70 percent of our sales were generated by off-premises dining – 50 percent drive-thru and 20 percent takeout – and those numbers have held strong over the past several months, only reinforcing the need and viability of Express design,” Russo said.

Captain D’s operates more than 530 restaurants around the United States. The first Captain D’s Express is projected to open in the second quarter of 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Photo courtesy of Captain D’s

Contributing Editor



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