Home CompaniesB2B The future of the drive-thru is being built right now in the Southeast

The future of the drive-thru is being built right now in the Southeast

by Maija Ehlinger

It’s quite likely that your latest spin around a drive-thru line was powered by technology created right here in the Southeast. 

Xenial, a Charlotte-based hospitality-focused tech company backed by Atlanta’s Global Payments, helps power the vast majority of the country’s top quick-serve restaurants (QSRs), according to company’s Head of Technology Chris Siefken.

A lot of things have to go right to ensure you can get a burger or a cup of coffee quickly while still in the driver’s seat. Xenial is part of each of those steps and “everything about the lifecycle of a customer and their order,” Siefken told Hypepotamus.

That includes the digital menu board, point of sales systems, and traffic timing solutions that streamline a driver’s experience. Within the kitchen, Xenial’s technology is involved in making sure customization is possible and that managers have the back-office labor forecasting, inventory management, and cash management tools. 

“It’s not just speed that we’re after, but also order accuracy. People go to restaurants again when they think they’re going to get it right. They will be more apt to customize their order and increase the amount that they’ll spend when they trust that that restaurant is going to deliver what they asked for,” he added. “It’s just a bigger part of an overall story about generally improving the customer experience throughout the entire process.”


Drive-Thru Innovation 

Xenial is also focused on bringing new experiences to the drive-thru lane. 

It comes down to making all the systems within a drive-thru more “camera aware” with the use of AI and computer vision, said Seifken. 

Hypepotamus chatted with Shiefken about what the “drive-thru of the future” will look like. He said that includes work to improve the ordering experience through “conversational ordering” and ensuring all restaurants are prepared for the “new normal” that is ordering takeout from QSRs. 

Part of Xenial’s vision for that future was on display last month during a showcase at Mercedes Benz Stadium. Cars were driven inside the stadium to showcase the next-generation of kiosk ordering to digital menus, camera-based car recognition technology, and AI-enabled voice ordering options.  


Building Usable Tech 

Global Payments is a giant in the payment technology space, serving merchants, issuers, and consumers alike. Xenial’s specific focus on enterprise hospitality is a “very symbiotic relationship” for the Global Payments, according to Siefken. 

Despite being part of one of the biggest payments providers in the world, the Xenial team is hyperfocused on making sure that their technologies work at every corner store. 

“We spend a tremendous amount of time focused on those crew members inside our customers’ locations. And to the extent that I will go make burgers at a customer location and spend time inside the restaurant listening to folks who are working and living this every day…instead of asking someone in a corporate ivory tower, we’re actually going into fast food restaurants and asking people that actually work there,” he added. 

That consumer focus has landed them clients not just in the drive-thru space, but those across the quick-serve restaurant scene. Nine major stadiums and events venues, including Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium, also use Xenial technology.



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