Johnny Rockets is best known as a 1950s diner-style restaurant, but in a bid to win on-the-go customers the chain is now adding drive-thrus.
Charlotte-area customers are getting the first look at the new service, which was launched this month at a location in Mooresville.
The restaurant opened on June 1 and will have a grand opening celebration on Thursday from 6-8 p.m. The company is donating 20 percent of sales from its grand opening day to the non profit Grin Kids.
After 30 years and about 350 locations globally, why is the franchise now choosing to add a drive-thru?
“About a year and a half ago, we conducted some guest research ... and (customers) wanted (Johnny Rockets) to be more accessible,” said James Walker, president of development and operations for Johnny Rockets. “They want more time for themselves and they want faster service ... And that’s really what a drive-thru does.”
The opening of this location created 25 new full-time jobs, according to Bonnie Warschauer, spokesperson for the company. People are already going there to eat, even before the grand opening.
“Business has been brisk and the community has turned out big,” she said.
Walker said the restaurant purchased cutting-edge cooking technology to accommodate the speed needed for a drive thru. While it used to take over four minutes to cook a burger patty, Walker said it now takes less than one. The burgers are still cooked-to-order. He said customers should be in and out in about three minutes.
The drive-thru is projected to be 50 to 60 percent of the restaurant’s business, said Warschauer. For those dining in, the Mooresville restaurant seats 70 inside and 12 on the patio.
While North Carolina is the first with a drive-thru, locations are under construction in Rhode Island and Texas, with more to come.
“We hope to have some California locations in the next month or so,” Walker added.
Rachel Stone: (704) 358-5334, @RStone1317