Drive-Thru Wait Times Getting Longer

Drive-Thru Wait Times Getting Longer

by David Koeppel, Posted Nov 27th 2009 @ 11:00AM

One of the primary advantages of eating at a fast-food restaurant is getting fast service.

But you can’t get fast service if you’re stuck behind 20 other cars at a drive-thru window. Reports of long waits at drive-thrus and parking-lot entrances have slowed down the service at some fast-food eateries.

It’s gotten so bad that police have been brought in to direct traffic. In July, at a new Sonic restaurant in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., an officer was struck and seriously injured by a driver leaving the popular eatery.

In Peabody, Mass., the opening of the first New England Sonic in August drew excited customers from across the region anticipating their first extra-long chili-cheese Coney hot dog. In the first month, it wasn’t unusual for customers to wait in their cars for up to four hours.

"Typically, traffic levels off as the drive-in becomes a more established part of the community," says Christi Woodworth, Sonic’s director of external communication. "However Sonic and our franchises continue to work closely with municipal authorities on all issues, including traffic flow around the drive-in."

But longer wait times are becoming more frequent around the country.

On a lunch break last year, Stepfanie Romine was driving to a mall in Cincinnati, Ohio, when traffic slowed to a crawl. Up ahead she noticed two sheriff’s deputies directing traffic and assumed there had been an accident. She soon discovered that the deputies were stopping traffic so cars could get out of a Burger King drive-thru. She noticed that another two deputies were doing the same at the Wendy’s next door.

"It’s frustrating when you’re doing lunch-time errands," says Romine, an editor who wrote about her experience on the Daily Spark, a lifestyle blog. "I understand that people need to eat, but at what point do you say to yourself, this is ridiculous? People are stopping traffic to get their 99-cent meals."

At a zoning board meeting last month in Hamilton, N.J., residents turned out to protest the proposed addition of a drive-thru at a local Popeye’s that had been at the same location since 1984. The primary complaint? The drive-thru would increase the already high level of traffic in the neighborhood.

The Sonic restaurants in Hasbrouck Heights (the restaurant where the officer was injured) and Totowa, N.J., continue to draw big crowds and plenty of traffic.

"The fact that Hasbrouck Heights has to have an officer directing traffic outside of Sonic is simply ridiculous in itself," wrote a reader. "What was the zoning board thinking when they approved this site?"


1 Comment

  1. I don’t know of too many disabled folks making enough money to squander on cars and/or Tim Hortons coffee … and of all of the seniors I know, each and every one of them makes their own morning coffee or drinks coffee with a friend – either in their home or INSIDE a Tim Hortons … so the lame excuse for drive-in anything becomes lamer.

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