How fast is too fast?

Yesterday around 2:30 I stopped to get something to eat. I went through the drive-thru at Wendy’s and ordered a fiery chicken something or other sandwich and fries. Imediately after ordering I look up and the gal at the window has a bag in her hand. My first thought was that the car in front of me pulled away without picking up their order, but no… it was my sandwich. It was very good, not dried out like it had been heated for a long time, but it wasn’t a rush time, and not the only item on the menu of 8,463 items (ok, I’m just guessing there). So, I’m torn that I’m glad I got it quickly, but couldn’t they have stalled a few seconds to make me think they actually made it just for me.

In a survey I read, women said under 5 minutes was too fast.

reads the OP

No such thing as too fast fast food IMO.

I like to get pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup). Sometimes I swear they go in the kitchen and come out with the soup before the kitchen door has swung back.

Sometimes I wish that fast food places would have an option where a single item was always available to pick up and eat right then. I’d be willing to eat a basic burger with no variation if I didn’t have to wait 5 minutes.

I wish some chain would institute an idea I had a decade or so ago for those of us who tend to order the same thing all the time: custom order numbers.

You place your order. If no one has ordered that before [the system was launched], it gets assigned a custom order number; if anyone else has ever ordered that before, it’s in the database already with a number already assigned. Either way, that part is transparent to you. You pull up and pay, and they tell you, from now on, you can just order by that number for what you just ordered.

First time:
“What’ll it be?”
“Two double cheeseburgers with no onions and no pickles, and a sweet tea.”
“Your order is number 2479.”

Next time:
“What’ll it be?”

Wasn’t that the whole idea of the original McDonalds concept (after they converted from a car-hop-type place, I mean) - they pared the entire menu down to Burgers/Fries/Drink to keep wait time to an utter minimum.

LOL…For some reason, I thought this thread was in the pit. I couldn’t figure it all out. Then I saw your sweet tea and thought, “Well, a discussion about that could be pit-worthy!”

FWIW, I love your idea. When I go to Taco Bell, I have two basic orders that I order 95% of the time.

And the concept of sweet tea and all it entails is so fascinating to me, I ask my friend from Atlanta to tell me stories of her husband ordering unsweet tea and bringing an entire restaurant to a screeching halt about once a month :slight_smile:

I think you’re overestimating the average intelligence in the country again.

This reminds me of the time[sup]1[/sup] when I took a new software engineering job at a particularly geeky company.

There I was, setting up my cube, when some guy yelled out, “Hey, new guy, 347!” and everybody laughed but me. So I asked what was going on, and the guy next to me explained that since everybody here always told the same jokes over and over, they just assigned them numbers to save time.

So I replied, “Oh yeah? 193!” But nobody laughed. “What happened?” I asked. My new ally shrugged and replied, “some people just can’t tell a joke, dude.”
[sub]1. Which never occurred.[/sub]

If you serve a limited food selection then you always have the basics cooking. It doesn’t matter if you order a single or double burger because it’s using the same base item. Same for chicken. They may only have 4 core items and the rest is the special sauce or other condiments. Stuff like bacon is always precooked and just needs to be slightly heated. The person handing out the order does the drinks. Everything down to taking money is thought out.

Did you ever notice that they hand you the loose change as you hand them paper money? They assume you are paying with paper and get the change ready before you pull up. Then it’s just a matter of exchanging the remaining paper money difference.

Fast food used to be like that, didn’t it? I vaguely remember rows upon rows of burgers and chicken sandwiches wrapped and ready to go. And then more and more people started special ordering, to the point where it wasn’t worth it to pre-assemble anything.

Some places do have the food ready to grab, but they’re more like cafeteria joints, typically the little eateries inside Target or the movie concession stands that serve more than candy, popcorn, and soda. Typically it’s pizza and hot dogs, not burgers.

One system a lot of fast-food restaurants here use is a vending machine by the door with a button for every menu item. You put your money in, push the appropriate buttons, and out comes your change and a ticket for each item. You sit down, hand your ticket(s) to the server, and he brings your food a minute later. This eliminates cashiers, and in the case of some of the really small places (like the noodle shops on the train platforms), lets a single person cook and serve a steady stream of customers.

The place downstairs from my office speeds it up a notch by linking the vending machine to the kitchen, so they can start preparing the order the moment you push the button. If you get their “standard” order, they can be bagging it by the time you reach the counter with your ticket.

That happened to me too, but I was luckier. I called out “589!” and everyone fell about. It was five minutes before they calmed down enough for me to ask what just happened. “Oh,” said the guy in the next cube, “we’ve never heard that one before.”

When I tried it I yelled out “255”, the place fell silent and everyone gave me a dirty look. I asked someone what happened and they said “His obese mother died last week from a heart attack and you just made a fat joke about her.”

Most of my drive-in visits would be much faster if the dope in front of me would just move up another three feet so I could speak into the damn microphone and place my order. “MOVE UP!”

Never too fast for me.

I wonder if such a thing would work in the US. A fast-food place that serves ONE THING, and one thing only (excluding, say, drinks), and your choices are take it, or leave it. One guy cooks, another guy takes the money. Beautiful in its simplicity, but I wonder if it would work in the execution?

Tried and failed, in the early- to mid-nineties. The chain was called Hot’n’Now. They served tiny cheeseburgers (with ketchup, mustard, and pickle) and small bags of fries. And a standard soda fountain. That’s it. You couldn’t ask for special orders. The soda was a buck, and the burgers and fries were a quarter each, as I recall.

You got exactly what you paid for, and I’m not surprised that it hut down. I mean, really, if you can’t even wait for McDonald’s, you have a serious problem.

You got off lucky. My last job, I yelled out 379, and got reported to HR for racial insensitivity.

Well, pho pretty much cooks itself at your table. They have a big cauldron of beef stock, and they just pour some into a bowl and throw the other stuff in. I could see them preparing it in under thirty seconds. And at my local pho joint, the waiters have those handheld radio transmitters which go back to the kitchen, and they’re happily pecking away at the keypad of that for the first person’s order while the second is still talking to them. It’s very, very fast as a result, but it’s still fresh. If they had pre-prepared bowl of pho, you’d be able to tell right away as the meat would be overdone.

Some fast food restaurants already do this. I remember that the Burger King at the Orlando airport did.

That’s basically what they’re already doing with the combinations; Number 1 at McDonalds is a Big Mac, fries and a soda. The difference is there are only a dozen or so predefined combinations, whereas your idea would have them creating an infinite number. And you just know that someone is going to screw up their order.