2020 was a rough year for the restaurant industry. But, out of the desperation of the year, the industry has changed in ways no one ever expected. Late in the year, QSR gave a recap of the Lessons Learned in 2020 – straight from the mouths of quick-service executives who had to take action and create innovative strategies to keep their businesses afloat throughout the year. Below are some of our favorite quotes from top brand executives on how 2020 changed them and how it continues to change their brands’ paths into 2021.

Taco Bell CEO Mark King:

“Amidst this crisis, our leadership team learned … that we could use this moment to accelerate our plans for innovation in the digital space and grow offerings across drive-thru, mobile and delivery.”

Edible President and COO Cheikh Mboup:
“To have empathy. To be aggressive when it comes to innovation. And to have the ability to move quickly and effectively in order to help meet consumer needs. Applying all three of these lessons has played a major role in the success we’ve seen this past year.”

Krystal President Thomas Stager:

“We had to be creative to find ways to drive sales and be profitable for ourselves, our franchisees and our shareholders. We did this through new marketing tactics, and third-party delivery service to add convenience, remain relevant and attract and retain a new customer base.”

A&W CEO Kevin Bazner:
“Heading into the pandemic, our strong ‘One Team’ culture was even more important than I realized. I was so impressed – and grateful – with how all of our stakeholders … rallied together to support our franchise partners and get them to the other side of the crisis. Maintaining this culture will certainly continue to be a priority.”

McDonald’s CFO Kevin Ozan:

“We entered 2020 from a position of strength. The second quarter was the most challenging in our company’s history. That said, we’re on a good trajectory for recovery in each of our segments from a comp sales perspective. … We’ve all seen several “starts and stops” with the virus – both in the states throughout the U.S. and around the world. And while we expect this to be the norm until a vaccine is widely adopted, we believe our Accelerating the Arches strategic plan will deliver strong results the next couple years.”

 Nathan’s Famous Senior Vice President James Walker:

“…Some things are simply beyond your control, and the sooner you accept those things and work to address them in the best way possible, the better off you are.”

The quick-service industry’s “light-on-its-feet” approach during the early days of the pandemic was just one way it showed speed and convenience as well as the strength of the industry as a whole. And, as the shift continues this year, execs across the country are looking to modular, walk-up construction as opposed to dine-in options to grow their offerings. Find out more information about RJ Russo’s modular drive-thru structures now.