Friday, November 16, 2012

Burger King experimenting with meals on wheels

Burger King is experimenting with home and workplace delivery. Late-night TV comics should have a ball with this marketing test.

"Hey, get this," I expect one to say, "America isn't fat enough from all the fast foods. Now they won't even get any exercise walking into a Burger King!" Ba-dum-bum.

Well, it's true. Burger King, which had quietly been testing the concept in Miami and Washington, DC, has expanded the test to the Houston market this week.

So far, the response has been positive, said Alex Macedo, vice president and general manager of U.S. franchise business for Burger King Worldwide. However, the company did not release specific sales numbers for delivery test markets.

"When you look at the QSR (quick-serve restaurant) industry around the world, you see many markets in which delivery is widespread," he said. "One of the questions we made when putting our plan together to grow in the United States was: 'Why don’t we have delivery?' "

A reasonable question, especially considering BK has offered delivery in Mexico, Peru, Brazil and Colombia since 2006.

To keep the food warm for delivery, BK developed special containers with air filters to keep fries and chicken nuggets crispy, and a container that separated the cool and hot components of a burger was designed to keep burgers from getting soggy.

Deliveries happen with equal frequency at lunchtime and dinnertime in restaurant locations that have office parks, Macedo said. In areas that are more residential, he said, dinnertime dominates deliveries.

Burger King’s entire menu is available for delivery, with some exceptions, including ice cream products and breakfast. The minimum delivery order is $10, plus a $2 delivery fee. The radius for delivery around each store varies, he said, but on average it’s not more than a 10-minute drive from the store.

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