Fast food, which is faster -- drive-through or lobby?

I worked at McDonalds a few years back. The way it was set up, drive-thru customers always got priority. For example, if there were only enough fries for one large fry, and both a drive-thru customer and a walk-in customer were waiting on fries, the drive-thru customer would get it first.

From a franchise standpoint, it is a lot easier for the computer to record the drive-thru time (because of those sensors), and a bad time negatively effects the manager.

From a business standpoint, the idea is that a place with a long drive-thru line looks a lot busier than one with a long line inside. And a long line can drive customers away.

At fast food places where they have 2 stations (place order and pickup) (like some Burger Kings here) they do check how long it takes to deliver your order. If you look at your receipt, it actually has the time the order was placed printed on it.

Drive-through customers are more profitable.

They don’t generate trash for your trashcan, they don’t leave your tables dirty, and they don’t come back for free refills on their soda. Makes sense a business would cater to their more-profitable customers first.

I thought it was a given that if you got out of your car and walked in, you probably weren’t in as much of a hurry as you would be if you drove through. Not to mention that you can only fit about 15 cars max in most drive-throughs, where the lobby can probably fit at least a hundred customers. So you need to keep the drive-through moving faster.

It isn’t that it is unfair or inconsistent that the drive through gets priority; but rather, that’s the whole point of having a drive through. I worked at McDonald’s for a year and a half, and that’s just my educated opinion.

Previous thread on point:

and it was always faster for the customers to come inside.

I don’t even understand why Dunkin’ Donuts HAS drive thrus, to be honest. Unless it’s just for coffee orders or somthin’. I can’t imagine putting some poor employee through the whole, “I’d like a dozen…make that two jellies…two long johns…no, the chocolate dipped ones…one cruller…one chocolate cake…uh…how many is that, now?” through a speaker. But I know some asshole in front of me is likely to do just that.

So I think Dunkin’ donuts, by the nature of their menu and selection process, is likely to be an outlier with drive thru times.

I always go in. I see the line as a waste of gas and wrong.

I’ve been inside McDonald’s on several occasions that were using this very tactic at the counter. The line to have your order taken was short, but once you paid you got to enter the cluster of disgruntled, hungry patrons off to the side waiting for their food. The counter was covered with waiting receipts. The cashier stood there with her thumb up her McAss waiting to take more orders/money, while the actual food going out the drive-thru window in a steady stream. I assume they were measuring the amount of time to get orders placed inside, but the time to get the food was unimportant. It took me 20 minutes once to have my order fulfilled. I didn’t go to McDonald’s (inside or drive-thru) for a very long time after that.

I’ve also noticed that some fast food places have a curb to the outside (right side) of the drive-thru lane so that once you’ve gone so far in line, you can’t escape if the line is taking a long time.

The theory behind “drive up first,” is simple, the customer in the lobby can actually SEE you’re busy. I’ve worked in customer service and 99% of people I found are reasonable when it comes to waiting IF they see you’re busy AND you’re trying your best to serve them.

A person in the drive through doesn’t see anyone but a car or two in front and/or behind him

My experience is the exact opposite. In my experience the bank employees looking after the drive-in customers are not looking after the walk-in customers at the same time.

This is fascinating, because in my experience (meaning personal observation, with no professional or scientific data to back it up), the drive-through is almost always faster. I’ve gone inside (Wendy’s, Burger King, McDonald’s, etc.) over the years, been the only person at the register, and have seen 3, 4, 5, even 6 cars go by the window sometimes before my order has even been taken.

The only exceptions could be Taco Bell and Arby’s. IME, both of those places are terribly slow either way.

So. This morning on my way to work I stopped at McDonald’s (at the corner of Des Plaines River Road and Higgins if you must know) for my usual - sausage biscuit with cheese, a milk, and a large black coffee to go.

There were two people in front of me in line, and they have two drive through lanes.

In the time it took the three of us inside to order, receive food, and for me to then leave, the car that was in front of me when I pulled in the parking lot had STILL not placed his drive through order.

So make of that what you will. :smiley:

I’ve had 2 local Arby’s cheat the drive-thru clock by having me pull up after paying and wait for them to walk out with my food. Each time this has happened there hasn’t been anyone behind me so I’m thinking this is has to be done just to cheat. I usually takes them 3-5 minutes to walk the food out to me.

This really annoys me so I almost always make them go back in to get me horsey sauce. And if they give me attitude, I’ll suddenly remember that I need Arby’s sauce too, after they’ve returned with the horsey sauce of course.


Oh I did work at Dunkin’ Donuts, but we didn’t have a drive thru - so I do have for real food service experience. It just has no bearing on this discussion. Heh.

I just can’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to wait an extra 10 minutes for their food, then eat it inside instead of going through the drive thru and taking the food elsewhere and eating it all lukewarm and soggy someplace else to save the 10 minutes. Plus if you’re still at the establishment you’re able to fix any errors or grab extra napkins or condiments or whatever you might be missing.

The last time I went through a drive thru it was because I was desperately late for work so I hit the BK on the way and shouted “2 double cheeseburgers for $2” figuring that was the easiest and fastest thing and as I bit into one on the way there they’d left the cheese off! COME ON! I mean it’s MEAT and CHEESE for crying out loud and I was in no position to do anything about it. Feh.