5 Fast Food Trends to Look for in 2022

/ Foodservice Tips, Restaurant Tips / July 22

Fast Food Trends to Look for in 2022

The last two years have certainly changed the landscape in the foodservice industry. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to reshape their formats, tweak menus and accelerate to concepts that were slowly on the rise over the last decade. As the focus shifts to 2022, some of the previous year’s trends will continue to grow and bud new innovations. From delivery to loyalty programs, here are some of the fast food trends you can expect to take off next year.

1. Adding or Refining In-House Delivery

Delivery isn’t really a new trend. Many fast food restaurants as well as casual and fine-dining establishments began implementing delivery pre-COVD to meet the growing demand from customers. Despite high commission fees, third-party services like GrubHub, Uber Eats and DoorDash were the typical go-to solution because they increased exposure while eliminating the headache of managing drivers, mileage reimbursement and POS system changes.

However, DoorDash’s June 2021 study showed that 43% of patrons prefer in-house delivery services. According to the study, 39% of patrons think direct channels are easier to use, and 30% percent like the familiarity of ordering directly from the restaurant’s app or site. While third-party apps remove some stress for the business, an in-house service removes the high commission fees and allows you to keep a level of branding and influence over the drivers and vehicles.

Are third-party options going away anytime soon? Not at all. But we could see more places instituting or fine-tuning in-house delivery. In fact, large chains and hospitality groups could turn to No. 2 on the list to help with this. Heading into the next calendar year, make sure your revamping your app or site with designs and ehancements that are easy for a customer to use.

2. Joining or Investing in Ghost Kitchens

The rise of ghost kitchens should continue to be one of the major fast food trends in 2022. Also known as commissary or off-premise kitchens, these setups allows multiple restaurants to have delivery orders prepared and cooked away from their individual locations. The facilities help each of those locations reduce costs on utilities, adding additional equipment, reformatting space and hiring extra staff.

A small, independent restaurant with a single location might not have the budget for a satellite location, but a hospitality or restaurant group likely could afford this option. For instance, a group has multiple fast food concepts in the same area would benefit from the ghost kitchen model because it consolidates the delivery operation in a single space without having to spend more money reconfiguring individual locations.

Curbside Pickup - Fast Food Trends to Look for in 2022

3. Implementing Curbside & Drive-Thru Pickup

You probably noticed that the heavy hitters like McDonald’s and Panera Bread added curbside in the last year or so. This trend is only going to grow in 2022 at other fast food establishments, and the good news is that it doesn’t require major changes. You only need to block off a few parking spaces, add signage and modify your website, app and POS system. The modification to your digital platforms likely will require the most time and budget. All three should work in concert to ensure that a customer has a seamless experience from order to pickup.

If your restaurant has an app with mobile ordering, you should definitely incorporate a check-in option so customers can let you know when they arrive. This can let patrons enter in the space number or vehicle details to ensure the right order gets to the right car. For drive-thru restaurants, consider something that Dunkin’ Donuts and Wendy’s have perfected. Allow customers to order online or via the app and pick up their food in the drive-thru lane. All they have to do is say their name or order number at the speaker and get their food immediately at the window.

4. Enhancing or Instituting Loyalty Programs

This could apply for all types of restaurants, but fast food establishments could benefit the most by improving or incorporating loyalty programs for 2022. Over the last decade or more, the retail and travel industry have made this a viable solution to help increase revenue, sustain brand and boost growth. More fast food businesses have really taken off with this concept by creating loyalty apps and special membership programs.

Both McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts offer free or discounted items to patrons who use their ordering app. You can do something similar by giving discounts or a free menu item once customers hit a spending limit or a certain number of points or visits. Restaurants like Panera Bread use surprise rewards to attract customers. If you opt for this model, consider offering discounted or free items during a social media holiday or on a specific day of the week. For example, if you’re a bakery, you can reward app users by giving them 50% off bagels every Friday, a free donut on National Donut Day and a free order on their birthday.

5. Accepting Multiple Payment Apps

We talked about adding payment apps in 2021, but this is a fast food trend that will continue to grow next year. Of course, this trend isn’t that new. In fact, some places like Starbucks and Chipotle incorporating mobile pay options in the 2010s. However, with concepts like delivery and curbside overtaking the traditional walk-in and drive-thru models, more QSR and FSR establishments need to support multiple quick-pay solutions as the next step in their evolution.

If your fast food restaurant lacks mobile payment, start researching which payment apps to incorporate. Make sure that you have multiple options that cater to different mobile users. Below is a quick list of some popular mobile payment apps and their compatibility:


  • Apple Pay – Only compatible with iOS.

  • Samsung Pay – Compatible on select Android and Samsung devices.

  • Google Pay – Compatible with iOS and Android.

  • Square Cash – Compatible with iOS and Android.

When incorporating these solutions, it likely won’t require additional hardware. Any phone, tablet, laptop or smart device can be transformed into a register. All you need to do is download new POS software. Also, see if your current POS system supports payment apps before looking into mobile-specific solutions. Many existing platforms have all-in-one capabilities, allowing restaurants to simply upgrade their software without having to purchase an entirely new system.


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