Upscale Fast Food Kind Of Takes The Fun Out Of Drive-Thrus

If you like using the drive-thru when you get hungry, you probably value the speed and convenience of the process. Last year, the average time spent in a drive-thru was 6 minutes and 13 seconds per visit. You can get what you want, when you want, without even leaving your vehicle.

Another reason drive-thru service also encourages impulse buying. The entire setup of a drive-thru is structured around point-of-purchase buying and facilitating guilty pleasure snacking. In a drive-thru line, the customer is already making a purchase, so if a flashy new food item catches their eye, it can be a fun, in-the-moment decision that they wouldn't make if they thought about it for too long.

However, when upscale drive-thrus enter the picture, they can diminish that fun. The experience is no longer a chance to quickly indulge in an emotional decision for a rewarding bite of comfort food. Instead, it becomes a calculated strategy mapped out for a fine dining experience — without the atmosphere. Instead of the convenience enhancing the thrill, it can rob the moment of its intrinsic whimsy.

Drive-thrus are good for restaurants

The pandemic changed the way we think and do things. In some ways, it was a catalyst that forced much-needed change. In other ways, it gave establishments a reason to jump to a new operating strategy with little-to-no questions asked. This was particularly true in the restaurant industry, where dispensing food became the primary focus, and the whole dining-in experience became non-essential.

In the restaurant business, table turnover is key to making a profit. The less time someone sits at a table, the more money the restaurant can make. Traditionally, fine dining is a balance of giving the customer enough time to enjoy their meal but not so much that it cuts into the restaurant's profits. In short, the drive-thru model can benefit a restaurant's bottom line, whether it serves fast food or features upscale menu items.

Before using a drive-thru, ask yourself if you want the convenience more than the experience. Your answer will let you know the best course of action.