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Extra Serving
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Matt Harding, senior vice president of culinary and menu Innovation at Piada Italian Street Food joins the podcast this week.

Piada Italian Street Food is taking cues from Chick-fil-A and In-N-Out Burger with new hospitality-focused drive-thru lane

The Italian fast-casual chain from Ohio is piloting a traditional QSR-style drive-thru lane, rolling out a new app, and rebooting growth, executive Matt Harding said during NRN’s latest Extra Serving podcast.

For years, Piada Italian Street Food has operated a handful of stores with pick up windows, a feature that has turned out to be serendipitous during the prolonged pandemic.

“It's proven invaluable,” said Matt Harding, senior vice president of culinary and menu Innovation at Piada.

Roughly seven of the brand’s 38 restaurants have pickup windows. This month, the Columbus, Ohio-based chain is adding a new level of convenience for customers with the opening a restaurant with a drive-thru lane.

But unlike other fast-casual restaurants like Chipotle Mexican Grill and Shake Shack who are experimenting with drive-thru lanes designed for mobile pick-up orders, Piada is sticking to the old-school approach.

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On Nov. 4, fast-casual chain Piada opened a new restaurant in Cleveland with drive thru lane. The chain is testing a hybrid version of a traditional drive-thru concept, where employees work outside and take orders on a tablet.

Harding, who attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, said hospitality is a core mission of the brand. So, the Piada restaurant, which opened in early November in a suburb of Cleveland, has employees outside taking orders using tablets -- a strategy more common at busy quick-service chains like In-N-Out Burger and Chick-fil-A.

Harding said it’s important for the brand to always interact with customers -- even if they’re sitting behind the wheel of a car.

During our latest Extra Serving podcast, Harding discusses the brand’s drive-thru experiment, the November rollout of the company’s new app and Piada’s plan to take advantage of pandemic-fueled real estate opportunities as it looks to reboot growth.

Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected] 

Follow her on Twitter: @fastfoodmaven

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