Here's why 10,000 Burger King drive-thrus are going digital

Ordering a flame-grilled Whopper from the Burger King drive-thru may be more fun in the months ahead.

Parent company Restaurant Brands (QSR) said Tuesday it will add digital drive-thrus to 10,000 Burger King locations in the U.S. and Canada by mid-2022. Burger King operates more than 18,675 around the world.

The company will follow in the footsteps of fast-food rivals McDonald’s (MCD) and Starbucks (SBUX) that have digitized their important drive-thrus in recent years. Such efforts — which allow restaurant chains to show the weather on screens, quickly change promotions and offer new items on the fly depending on what’s selling well — are often viewed favorably by Wall Street. That's especially important now as people flock to ordering food via drive-thrus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anything to eke out more profit in a competitive business, right?

"The drive-thru business has been a big focus throughout the pandemic. I think it has been a big part of our business for Burger King and Popeye's for decades. We've seen it obviously be a very important growth opportunity in the last seven or eight months," Restaurant Brands CEO Jose Cil told Yahoo Finance's The First Trade.

FILE - In this Thursday, April 25, 2013, file photo, a car stops at the drive-thru at a Burger King restaurant near downtown Los Angeles. Restaurant Brands reports financial results Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)
A car stops at the drive-thru at a Burger King restaurant near downtown Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)

Restaurant Brands shares fell 2% in today's trading as investors chose to pay more attention to third quarter earnings out before the opening bell.

The company's third quarter consolidated same-store sales — which includes the performance of Burger King, Popeye's and Tim Horton's — fell 5.4% due to ongoing challenges from the coronavirus pandemic. Same-store sales at Popeye's continued to be hot on the back of demand for its popular chicken sandwich — sales rose 17.4%. Same-store sales at Burger King and Tim Horton's fell 7% and 12.5%, respectively.

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Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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