Slightly more than 40% of rd+d’s readers believe takeout and delivery-only operations will drive development in 2021, according to a December 2020 survey of the magazine’s qualified subscribers.

In second place, 31.76% of readers felt redesigning, expanding and upgrading drive-thru operations in new and existing locations will be a primary driver of development in the year ahead. Finally, 11.76% predicted suburban locations will drive development.

Readers also noted other areas in which they will invest to drive sales and development. 15.88% of respondents offered alternate responses as to what they and their clients would focus on developing in 2021. Those include: developing quicker pickup and takeout areas, investing in mobile ordering, to-go beverages (both with and without alcohol), smaller format locations, reworking or eliminating buffets, and making indoor air quality upgrades. Several respondents noted they would double down on their successes in 2020 and continue to invest in outdoor dining upgrades, including expanding outdoor dining spaces, making outdoor areas more functional — hopefully year-round — and adding outdoor amenities.

One notable comment included a focus on suburban lunch traffic as an opportunity for 2021. “With more people working from home, certainly there is a lot of potential in the suburbs, particularly with lunch,” said one respondent. “That will drive growth and new opportunities. With the increase of takeout and third-party delivery, restaurants will need to modify their existing spaces to utilize more square footage to make, package, and store those orders.” 

rd+d launched a yearlong research project that will periodically survey qualified subscribers on the state of restaurant development and design. Each issue in 2021 will feature new data collected from very recent reader surveys.