Wienerschnitzel is looking at remodeling its nostalgic A-frames

When Wienerschnitzel appeared on the scene in the 1960s, its drive-thrus were unique in that customers actually drove through their buildings. They had a gap in the middle with for the car lane with the kitchen on the driver’s side.

Decades later, 92 of those drive-thrus still exist, and the Newport Beach-based chain is looking for ways to bring them into the 21st century.

“Instead of saying ‘Wipe ‘em out and rebuild,’ we realized we have great real estate points and it’s very nostalgic. So we’re making some efforts behind the scenes that haven’t been shown anywhere,” said Rusty Bills, chief operating officer, in a joint phone interview with J.R. Galardi, president and chief executive officer.

An old-school Wienerschnitzel in Riverside features a drive-thru lane that passes through the building. (Photo by Fielding Buck, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG) 

“We’re maintaining the nostalgic history of our brand, but modernizing as well,” said Galardi, who is the son of founder John Galardi.

Bills was recently promoted from vice president of operations. One of his roles in the new position is to modernize kitchens to make the most of new technology and deal with post-COVID-19 challenges such as staffing shortages and supply chain issues.

“We want to make sure that we have the most efficient, assemble-to-order kitchen that we can for our franchisees,” he said.

“We have some really tiny kitchens, but we get to be creative.”

The original drive-thrus have small kitchens, and many have short drive-thrus. Their most noticeable characteristics are their A-frame design and steep roofs.

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