Burger King's touchless restaurant design will transform the fast food guest experience, according to RBI COO

Josh Kobza, Restaurant Brands International COO, joins Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade with Alexis Christoforous and Brian Sozzi to discuss Burger King's new, touchless restaurant design. Kobza also weighs in on the 'tremendous' success of the Popeye's chicken sandwich.

Video Transcript

BRIAN SOZZI: The next time we get a flame-grilled Whopper, your local burger King may look a little bit different. The BK team is out with a new restaurant design with a completely touchless experience that includes curbside delivery, pickup lockers, and even a walk-up window. All right. Pretty cool.

Restaurant Brands international COO, Josh Kobza, joins us now. Josh, good to-- good to speak with you. So set the scene for us. What will the Burger King of the future look like? And why redesign the restaurant?

JOSH KOBZA: Hi, Brian. Good morning. And thanks so much for-- for having me on today. Really appreciate it.

You know, over the last few years, we've been investing a lot in technology and design as the pace of change in restaurants has been speeding up a lot. And those investments became even more important with the pandemic this year in 2020. We've seen an acceleration in digital adoption within the restaurant space and an accelerating shift in service modes through-- through restaurants.

And we're bringing it all together in some of these new formats and designs that-- that you see here today. And we're gonna bring these to our guests in the US and all around the world starting next year with a lot of our new development and a lot of our-- our remodels. We remodel hundreds of restaurants every year and-- and build over 1,000 new Burger Kings, generally, each year.

So it's really important for us to bring exciting new designs, forward-looking designs for all of our franchisees and our guests around-- around the world. We have two new concepts that-- that we're bringing today that you see here. The first one is the Your Way concept. That's all about giving our guests choices about how they can order and how they can interact with-- with the restaurant.

And we have another concept that's called "Next Level." And this one, we take many of the traditional elements of the restaurant, and we take them up one level to create space for something really innovative, a triple drive-thru with two drive-thru lanes for cars and one drive-thru lane for just for delivery drivers, which makes a lot of sense in a lot of our urban driving cities where we're seeing really high growth in things like delivery orders. So two really new and exciting formats that we're gonna start working on for next year in our-- we'll start in our Miami markets and our Latin American markets, but we'll bring many of these features to our guests all around the world.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: So, Josh, these redesigned Burger Kings are about 60% smaller than your typical Burger King. So what kind of impact might that have on revenue? Or are you banking on these-- these new smaller overall stores producing higher volume for you?

JOSH KOBZA: Yeah. We think some of these-- the formats in particular, the-- the Your Way format that-- that you see that's very focused, especially on the drive-thru and the takeaway format. They-- they do result in a lower footprint primarily because we reduced some of the indoor dining space.

As you pointed out, that-- that in some of our-- our early numbers could reduce the-- the physical footprint by about 60%, which would have the impact of reducing some of the construction costs and make the construction more sustainable, which we think is a great side effect. And we think that they can produce just as much or even more revenue because we really think they cater to where our guest preferences are going and how people want to interact with our Restaurant Brands in the future.

BRIAN SOZZI: Josh, is one of the messages here from these new concepts, which are just really visually stunning, is that the pandemic has changed forever how people consume fast food? When I see your parking lots change in these visuals where you can order your food, and drive under there, and stay for-- for an hour or two if you want, that's a big change. And I don't know if that would've been around a couple years ago.

JOSH KOBZA: Yeah. The way I would characterize it, Brian, is I think we saw a lot of-- of these changes coming. We saw growth and delivery coming before this year. We saw increasing digitization in the restaurant space. And we saw a movement towards more off premise or takeaway business.

What I think's happened this year is we've seen a big acceleration in all of those trends. So we probably took a step a few-- a few years forward in just the space of one year. So I think a lot of these trends were coming. We've been working on them.

But our work's really hard to speed up this year. And I think you're seeing us, with some of these new designs, taking a big step forward in our-- our thinking. And we're trying to be a leader in the industry and some of how we think about where the business goes in the future.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: And, of course, Restaurant Brands is more than just Burger King. You've got Tim Hortons You've got Popeyes.

And I understand that the very popular chicken sandwich at Popeyes went on sale in Canada-- Canada wide just a few days ago. What does that mean to the overall business? And congratulations on that.

JOSH KOBZA: Thanks so much. And yeah, we're-- we're really proud of-- of our-- our chicken sandwich. It's been tremendous for the business. And our guests love it across the US.

And one of the big things that we've been working on since we launched the chicken sandwich last year in the US is bringing it to our guests in our Popeyes markets all around the world. And as you-- you pointed out, we recently launched the chicken sandwich in-- in Canada. We had been rolling it out across a few different markets, and now it's going national.

We think it's really exciting for-- for Popeyes, for our guests, and for the future of our business. In Canada, we think it provides a really new leg of growth to the business there. And we think it just supports kind of the-- the growth path that we see for Popeyes all around the world over the next few years.

BRIAN SOZZI: Josh, I gotta be honest, my local Burger King doesn't look anything like the new concepts you put forward. Realistically, how long would it take to-- to put all of your restaurants or a majority of them in the United States to make them look like that concept?

JOSH KOBZA: Yeah. It's a great question, Brian. I think that many of the features that-- that you see in these new designs are things that we're already rolling out. So things like curbside pickup-- pickup is something that-- that we can roll out more quickly.

Things like the digital menu boards that you see in the-- in the drive-thru it's something that we plan on rolling out really quickly. We're already in over 1,500 of our Burger Kings around the US and something we plan to do in just the next couple of years. And then some of the bigger picture remodel features, some of the bigger picture construction and changes, those will probably take a little longer. They'll happen more on our normal remodel cycle that will happen over a longer series of years. And then as we build new Burger Kings, you'll start to see more and more of these-- these designs come over a longer period of years.

BRIAN SOZZI: I'll put a plug-in for my hometown. Bay Shore, Long Island needs one of these new restaurant concepts from Burger King. I'm just gonna say that right now. All right. Restaurant--


BRIAN SOZZI: Restaurant Brand's International COO, Josh Kobza, good to see you.

JOSH KOBZA: Thanks so much, Brian. Thanks, Alexis. Have a great day.

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