I just watched Chick-fil-A’s most innovative technology and I’m suddenly hungry


A stronghold of technology?

Karl Gehring / Getty

Companies want to be efficient and smart. In technology, they see a vehicle of both.

An algorithm here, a robot there, and everything will run smoother, right?

However, some companies seem to be doing quite well without much technology changing their operations. Chick-fil-A, for example, is always considered the best customer service of all fast food chains. It is always voted the favorite fast food chain of teenagers.

Yet you don’t hear of Chick-fil-A embracing robots as long-lost friends.

Instead, despite its owners’ twisted socio-political leanings, it’s known for good food, staff that say “my pleasure” — and sound like they mean it — and traffic jams at the drive-thrus.

Speaking of those drive-thrus, they are often said to be the slowest.

Still, I just came across a video of a simple technology Chick-fil-A has been using for over a decade, one that somehow expresses the essence of the brand.

The video, posted to TikTok by Edgar Spam, shows a Chick-fil-A transporting his drive-thru meals once they’re made. A simple conveyor belt sends the collection bag into the air. It then travels along the ceiling, through an opening in the wall, and to the drive-thru. There it descends a slide and ends up right in the hands of the cashier at the drive-thru.

The customer is of course not aware. When you’re hungry, you don’t think about where the food comes from; you just want it now.

This particular rudimentary technology is apparently used in about 1% of Chick-fil-A restaurants, where there is more than one drive-thru lane. It has been around since 2006.

I must confess that I admired the sheer ingenuity when I watched the video. I decided this had to be the best use of technology ever by the chain.

Someone had thought completely practical to solve something that might have seemed like a persistent problem.

Instead of switching to, say, an app, they have thought about how to use space, an existing technology and how that technology can also be implemented for the convenience of customers and employees.

It made me quite hungry and reminded me of Yoshiaki Shiraishi. It was his delightful spirit that created sushi on the assembly line, making it available to a much wider audience.

He was inspired by bottles moving along a conveyor belt on a production line. By presenting sushi in this way, he reduced the need for servers. Some even consider his approach to be the marriage of sushi with fast food. And in 1958 he opened his first conveyor belt restaurant.

Now, so many decades later, Chick-fil-A is still finding use for a technology so seemingly simple.

It reminds you that sometimes the idea is the most important. Only then is it worth considering the technology to create it. This is so much more useful than looking for some kind of technology and then deciding what to do with it.

The next time you think you need a robot to do something, maybe consider that what you really need is something much simpler.

Yes, Chick-fil-A is using more modern forms of technology to accelerate its operations.

But the company’s senior director of service and hospitality, Khalilah Cooper, said: Nation’s Restaurant News: “Our technology is there to enable interaction between people, so if we can take over tasks from our team members so they can give a guest that warm welcome or that genuine smile, those are the kinds of things we’ll do again.” looking to keep leaning in.”

You almost forgot that fast food can be an interaction between people, didn’t you?

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