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Oct 6, 2013 09:29 AM

When did fastfood drive thru stop being drive thru and fast?

My last two drive thru experiences involved me paying for my food and being told to park and wait for the food to be brought to me. When did this start happening? Because it's gotten to the point where parking, walking in, ordering, and leaving is becoming faster than waiting in a line of traffic only to be told to park and wait. I blame the sprawling list of menu items that take forever to navigate and just as long to decide on what to get. 

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  1. It's happened occasionally to me for years. I think the effort to make everything fresh, and to order has more to do with it than the time it takes a customer to choose what they want to eat.

    Personally I don't mind wait a bit if I know my food will be hot.

    1. My experience is that In-n-Out offers efficient drive-through service. Perhaps it's at chains that have tried to move their burgers up market where this is a problem.

      1 Reply
      1. re: GH1618

        They are excellent in that area. When the lines get long, they send someone out to take your order before you even reach the intercom. You bypass that and your order is ready when you reach the window.

      2. easy rule of thumb - any more than 2-3 cars in line? go in. easier to fumble with change or debit card anyway when standing. and it's more personal. you're up in their faces (smiling and nice of course) but not just some voice on the intercom.

        1. what did you order? is it straight out of the bin or did you ask for no cheese, extra pickles, mayo instead of ketchup, etc. that's the most common reason i've been asked to pull to the parking lot.

          every once in a while the "kitchen" gets backed up on a certain item and you have to wait for them to catch up. they don't want to make the entire line of cars to have to wait.

          1. I have heard industry types say that the breakpoint between using the drive through vs. parking and going in is four cars in line.

            I'd say the problem is more than just people taking too long to choose from the big menus. The complex variety of menu items also slows down the production flow inside. That's why places like In-n-Out, who have tended to stick with comparatively simple menus, are able to keep their lines moving faster.

            4 Replies
            1. re: johnb

              When I used to go to the In-n-Out drive-through, the line would be 15 to 20 cars long at lunchtime. This was not a problem, because it moved quickly. Waiting for a parking space to open up, then waiting in line inside, would take longer and be less convenient if one wants to go right back to the office anyway.

              1. re: johnb

                The only place where the line length never seems to make a difference in Chik Fil A. I haven't been in quite a while but from what I remember the line of cards could be 10 deep and it's always speedy.

                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  Really? I need to visit your Chikfila then because mine's drive thru moves sooooo slow. You're right on the 10 cars deep thing, though. It's definitely one of the more crowded drive thrus I visit, but unfortunately for me, it moves that way, too.

                  On the plus side, Chikfila has some of the friendliest workers and my food is always hot and my order always accurate, so the wait doesn't bother me too much.

                  1. re: SaraAshley

                    Very interesting, I've been to a few in the area and they all seem to be super speedy and yes the food is always hot and I never am frustrated to find the wrong food in my bag which happens upwards of 50% at other places.