The chicken sandwich wars have catapulted a menu staple to new heights of popularity and profitability. America’s insatiable appetite for chicken sandwich variations and a young market hungry for bold new taste adventures have dovetailed to create sky-high demand for chicken innovation. As a result, the stakes for quick-service chains clawing their way up the pecking order of chicken sandwich concepts continues to rise.
Chicken may have risen to the top of the pecking order in terms of consumer demand, thanks to the so-called “chicken sandwich wars.” But as restaurant operators are learning, the realities of demand and supply face a battle of their own. A drop in chicken processing and production due to the pandemic, combined with the growing popularity of chicken sandwiches at major fast food restaurants nationwide, has left operators scrambling to meet demand—and threatens to send sales into a tailspin.
Months into the pandemic, drive-thrus have become reliable revenue engines that offer consumers a coveted combination of convenience and safety. According to the location technology company Bluedot, 74% of people have used drive-thrus the same amount or more often than usual since the onset of COVID-19—a 43% increase from April.1
Downsized menus are a must for many operators re-orienting their businesses for less dine-in and more off premise sales. Major chains have been at the forefront of shrinking menus to achieve more manageable margins during the pandemic.
The pandemic may have put an unforeseen strain on the industry and brought business to a crawl, but a Bank of America study has revealed that sales have gone from fizzle to sizzle as the big brands turned the corner on the coronavirus.1 Small chains and independent restaurants, meanwhile, remain stalled.1
Topics: Restaurant Operations, Trends, Quick Service Restaurant, Casual Dining Restaurant, Delivery, Sales & Profitability, Operations, Drive-Thru, Restaurants, quick service restaurants, COVID-19, Coronavirus