Walk-up windows – a.k.a. pick-up, carryout, takeout or to-go windows – are becoming increasingly popular as restaurants look to create or expand the takeout experience.
If you’re considering a walk-up window for your restaurant, here are a few considerations to keep in mind.
Layout – Think about what you’ll need in the interior space around the window. A point-of-service (POS) system is a must-have but think about other items you’ll need to allot space for. Do you need shelving to set down orders? What about extra lighting to display food? Think through your needs for the space as you’re designing the area.
Make it Easy to Spot – You’ll want to ensure you have the easy-to-see, well-lit signage above your walk-up window so customers – and/or third-party delivery drivers – know exactly where to go to pick up their order. Be sure there is a clear path, likely a concrete walkway, from the sidewalk or street to your window. You want to make sure your customers don’t have to walk or drive around the perimeter of the restaurant to locate the walk-up window.
Think about Notifications – Be sure to install a sensor, bell, camera, or another device that notifies you when a customer is there. You don’t want to have to staff the pickup window at all times.
Make it a Straight Shot – You want to design your walk-up window as close to the kitchen as possible to maximize your team’s efficiency. You want a straight path from the kitchen to the takeout window, if possible, to limit the number of steps needed.
Consider an Air Curtain – You’ve likely walked into a store before and felt a gush of air coming down on you. An air curtain is a device that pushes air down – imagine an actual curtain in the form of air – preventing the heat or air conditioning from escaping the building. For many restaurants, the savings in heating and cooling is well worth the investment. If your window is a busy one, your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) will be working on overtime all the time, causing higher monthly bills and increased maintenance costs. You will need the certain level of power for an air curtain feature, so be sure to incorporate that consideration into your plans.
Make it Comfortable – More likely than not you’ll have customers waiting for their orders at some point– perhaps during a lunch rush, or maybe they arrived before their order is ready. Consider a small seating area near the window… a bench or two might suffice depending on your space and the number of customers you can serve at a time through the window. You might also consider an awning to make the wait more comfortable in inclement weather.
Reach out to the Health Department – Your municipality’s health code will guide many of your decisions. For example, some health codes or individual municipalities require an air curtain as part of the restaurant’s design. Reach out to your municipality early in your design process so you can incorporate any mandatories from the beginning.
Based on the very unscientific study of the number of calls coming in through our office, a walk-up window is an increasingly popular option that’s here to stay.