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Ryan Gomez
Ryan Gomez

Drive Thru



A drive-through or drive-thru (a sensational spelling of the word through), is a type of take-out service provided by a business that allows customers to purchase products without leaving their cars. The format was pioneered in the United States in the 1930s[citation needed], and has since spread to other countries. Hillcrest State Bank, Dallas, Texas, installed the first drive-through banking system in America. It was a George Dahl designed building, constructed in the 1920s, across from SMU.[citation needed] The second recorded use of a bank using a drive-up window teller was the Grand National Bank of St. Louis, Missouri in 1930. The drive-up teller allowed only deposits at that time.[1]




Drive Thru


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Orders are generally placed using a microphone and picked up in person at the window. A drive-through is different from a drive-in in several ways - the cars create a line and move in one direction in drive-throughs, and normally do not park, whereas drive-ins allow cars to park next to each other, the food is generally brought to the window by a server, called a carhop, and the customer can remain in the parked car to eat. However, during peak periods, to keep the queue down and avoid traffic flow problems, drive-throughs occasionally switch to an "order at the window, then park in a designated space" model where the customer will receive their food from an attendant when it is ready to be served. This results in a perceived relationship between the two service models.


Drive-throughs have generally replaced drive-ins in popular culture, and are now found in the vast majority of modern American fast-food chains. Sometimes, a store with a drive-through is referred to as a "drive-through", or the term is attached to the service, such as, "drive-through restaurant". or "drive-through bank".


Drive-throughs typically have signs over the drive-through lanes to show customers which lanes are open for business. The types of signage used is usually illuminated so the "open" message can be changed to a "closed" message when the lane is not available.


Drive-through designs are different from restaurant to restaurant; however, most drive-throughs can accommodate four to six passenger cars or trucks at once (called the queue).[citation needed] Most drive-through lanes are designed so the service windows and speaker are on the driver's side of the car, for example, in left-hand traffic (right-hand drive) countries such as the UK, Ireland, Australia, India and New Zealand, the windows will be on the right side of the drive-through lane, and vice versa in right-hand traffic (left-hand drive) countries such as North America and mainland Europe. There are a few drive-through lanes designed with the service windows on the passenger side, but these lanes are disfavored as they cannot be used easily by cars with only a driver.


According to a 2021 report in QSR Magazine, 42 percent of all customer traffic came to the drive up window. The fastest drive-through of 2020 in the United States was Taco Bell, with an average time of 4.46 minutes, followed by KFC with 4.53 minutes, 4.76 minutes at Carl's Jr and 4.91 minutes at Dunkin'.[2]


In 1921, Kirby's Pig Stand introduced the drive-in restaurant, in which carhops delivered meals. In 1931, a California Pig Stand franchise introduced a drive-through service that bypassed the carhops. In 1948, Harry and Esther Snyder of the In-N-Out Burger chain built the first true drive-through restaurant, featuring a two-way speaker system that Harry Snyder invented himself earlier that year. By the 1970s, drive-through service had replaced drive-in restaurants in the United States.[4]


The first McDonald's drive-through was created in 1975 in Sierra Vista, Arizona, near Fort Huachuca, a military installation, to serve military members who were not permitted to get out of their cars off-post while wearing fatigues.[5] The original McDonald's was closed down and demolished in May 1999 and a new McDonald's replaced it.


In the US, drive-throughs account for 70 percent of McDonald's business and the average drive through order is fulfilled in under three and one half minutes.[8] Outside of the US, McDonald's drive-throughs are variously known as "McAuto", "McDrive" and "AutoMac".[citation needed]


In 1928, City Center Bank, which became UMB Financial Corporation, president R. Crosby Kemper opened what is considered the first drive-up window.[citation needed] Shortly after the Grand National Bank in St Louis opened up a drive-through, including a slot to the side for night time deposits.[10] Westminster Bank opened the UK's first drive-through bank in Liverpool in 1959, soon followed by Ulster Bank opening Ireland's first in 1961 at Finaghy.[11]


In recent years, there has been a decline in drive-through banking due to increased traffic congestion and the increased availability of automated teller machines and telephone and internet banking.[citation needed] However, many bank buildings now feature drive-through ATMs.


Harold Willis and his father, Robert Willis, first incorporated a dairy and eggs drive through service in Redlands, California, in the early 1940s, supplying milk and eggs quickly and efficiently to driving customers; this utilized a dairy conveyor belt that Harold Willis had invented.[12] Some supermarkets offer drive-through facilities for grocery shopping. In the UK, this service was first announced by Tesco in August 2010.[13] In the United States, Crafty's Drive-Buy Grocery Store in Virginia started offering the service. In 2012, the Dutch chain Albert Heijn introduced a "Pick Up Point" where one can collect groceries bought online.[14]


In the early 1990s, the French Jean Duchaine came up with the idea of using drive-thru for the retail market. The drive-thru was the Pillar of a full concept built with many innovative ideas: walk-thru, dark store, market place, big data, ads...[15][16]


Alcoholic beverages have been sold at a drive-through liquor store (called a "Beer Through", a "Cruise Through", a "Brew Thru" in the U.S. eastern Mid-Atlantic coast,[17] or a "Pony Keg" in certain areas; generally illegal in the Northeast and West)


During the COVID-19 pandemic, drive-through testing became a common approach around the world for testing people who were potentially infected with the virus.[18] In 2020, drive-through testing facilities were set up in many countries to test whether passengers were infected with COVID-19 (the first being in South Korea).[19][20]


In response to emerging evidence of the role that drive-throughs play in contributing to climate change, Minneapolis banned the construction of new drive-throughs in 2019, while a number of other US cities including Creve, Coeur, Fair Haven and Orchard Park have enacted ordinances to restrict or prohibit fast-food drive-through restaurants.[28][29]


Long drive-through lines in the United States have been reported to cause traffic backups, blocking emergency vehicles and city buses and increasing the risk of collisions and pedestrian injuries. The popularity of Chick-fil-A's drive-throughs in particular has led to traffic problems, police interventions, and complaints by neighboring businesses in more than 20 states.[31][32][33]


Pedestrians sometimes attempt to walk through the drive-through to order food after the seated section of a fast-food restaurant has closed. Many establishments refuse drive-through service to pedestrians for safety, insurance, and liability reasons.[37] Cyclists are usually refused service with the same justification given.[38]However, in the summer of 2009, Burgerville gave use of the drive-through window to bicyclists.[39] Similar issues can arise in rural areas for people on horseback or in a horse-drawn carriage.[40]


On 20 July 2013, a woman was fined for taking her horse inside a McDonald's restaurant in Greater Manchester, United Kingdom after being refused service at the drive-through. The horse ended up defecating inside the restaurant which caused distress to other customers.[41]


In May 2016, Scott McGee filed a United States federal class action lawsuit pursuing action against McDonald's due to the company being unwilling to serve people who are visually impaired when only the drive thru lane is open.[42] As of October 2018[update], the matter was still in litigation.[citation needed]


On May 24, 2018, a law came into effect in Portland Oregon requiring multi-modal access to drive-throughs.[43] The new zoning law states, "When a drive-through facility is open and other pedestrian-oriented customer entrances to the business are unavailable or locked, the drive-through facility must serve customers using modes other than a vehicle such as pedestrians and bicyclists."[44]


Some establishments provide a walk-up window instead when a drive-through may not be practical. However, the walk-up windows should not be confused with small establishments that customers are lined up for services such as mobile kitchens, kiosks or concession stands. These walk-up windows are value-added services on top of the full services provided inside the stores.[45]


The walk-up windows generally provide similar customer experience with the drive-throughs by allowing customers to receive services from the exterior of the facilities through a window. There are many reasons for the owners to provide such services. An example is when McDonald's entered a new market in Russia where the majority of families did not own cars, the owners developed the walk-up windows as an alternative.[46] Another reason is to have a drive-through experience in the locations that are not feasible to construct a drive-through lane such as in city centers. Some establishments may want to use walk-up windows to attract certain customer demographics such as younger customers who need quick service during late night.[45] Another reason is to offer extended service hours and maintain a safe environment for employees, such as a bulletproof walk-up window in high-crime areas.[47] 041b061a72


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