There are other, more nuanced changes that continue Pei Wei’s from-scratch conversation. There’s a mural representing Wok Chefs as the featured focal point of the restaurant. The new design graphics also gave Pei Wei a chance to promote its new tiger logo, which was introduced about four months ago.
Pei Wei featured the tiger mascot March in a fresh ad campaign targeted at competitor Panda Express and one of its signature dishes. It promoted Pei Wei’s new Wei Better Orange Chicken, introducing the Tiger and his “hapless friend, the Panda.”
The new restaurant is the first to fully integrate the tiger mascot and branding throughout. New uniforms reflect this branding change. There’s also a redesigned music playlist to set the vibe. Pei Wei added new digital menu boards as well.
Back in October, Hedrick told QSR the concept was working on reducing friction in the take-out experience and speeding up the dine-in process overall. The brand was averaging about 7-minute ticket times, which could swing to 12 minutes during busy periods.
Pei Wei significantly addressed some of those concerns with the new prototype. There’s a dedicated take-out station for guests who order online or through Pei Wei’s improved mobile app (the brand introduced its reengineered online and loyalty platforms in March). Pei Wei installed cubbies for to-go customers who paid online to just walk in, grab their order, and leave. There’s no more waiting in line.
Hedrick says Pei Wei didn’t want to stop there, however. The onrush of off-premises business presented additional opportunities. Pei Wei moved its core beverage set closer to the to-go station. Before, it was across the restaurant. To-go customers would have to walk through the restaurant to get a beverage if they wanted a fountain drink or iced tea. Now, it’s adjacent to the to-go area. This could help with upselling, as well as just enhancing the customer experience.
Additionally, Pei Wei added dedicated to-go parking. “Consumers are busy. We’re all busy, right? The one thing everybody can use is more time, and we would like to make sure we do everything we can to make our guests’ lives easier by making their experience with Pei Wei as frictionless as possible so they can eat something they feel great about eating in a very easy format,” Hedrick says.
Pei Wei switched up its beverage presentation and offerings in the design. When guests arrive at the point of order they’ll see a 3-foot cooler on the to-go side that has beverages, as well as 4-foot in-counter cooler on the dine-in side. Gone is the ice bath of past units. The beverages are showcased in a refrigerated unit that displays the product in a grab-and-go format. No more ice dripping. No more water getting on other devices.
It was a change, Hedrick says, worthy of the beverage improvements Pei Wei invested in. The brand flipped from a Coca-Cola Freestyle setup to a traditional set, while adding Blue Sky offerings—crafted options sweetened with pure cane sugar. Pei Wei added 20-ounce beverages for to-go customers.
On top of those switches, Pei Wei debuted kombucha, sparkling water, and revamped its beer and wine lineup at the store. There are two additional beer options, sake, and elevated wine offerings to improve pairings.