Drive thru and “drive-2-u”. Two pandemic busting trends that are having a marked impact on food and drink real estate.  

On one hand, as this Guardian article describes, there is a clamour for drive thru sites. New operators (e.g. Tim Hortons) enter the market, existing operators (e.g. Leon) join the hunt for sites. And with operators prepared to commit to lengthy leases to secure a site, investors sit up and take notice. 

On the other hand, the surge in home delivery has added a new dynamic to restaurant real estate. How do existing restaurants serve this burgeoning demand? There is, no doubt, a tension between the traditional in-house restaurant experience and the need to service the increased number of at-home customers. Delivery drivers jostling on high street restaurant premises is a notable observation, particularly as we move into a post-lockdown world. Many existing premises are clearly unfit for serving this dual purpose. No doubt premises will continue to evolve (e.g. separate delivery counters have started to emerge) and the delivery-only format will grow.

The “meals by wheels” market, in its broadest sense, is certainly one to keep an eye on…