For years, Piada Italian Street Food has operated a handful of stores with pickup 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 pickup orders, Piada is sticking to the old-school approach.
Harding, who attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., 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.
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