Are Drive Thrus the New Normal?

Are Drive-Thrus the New Normal? You can bet on it.

Americans love drive thrus. They’re as popular as football and apple pie. Thanks to COVID-19, drive-thrus are changing faster than the weather. When we locked down, drive-thrus stood tall through it all. Minimal contact with maximum fast food – welcome to “frictionless” dining. A safe way to dine in an unsafe world.

But with this increased demand, drive-thru lines are routinely extending beyond the parking lot and so far into the street that they warrant a post on Facebook. While many businesses have suffered, those with drive-thrus have prospered more quickly than a seller posting on an eBay auction.

Brands like ICS by Everidge have seen an uptick in the demand for one-piece outdoor walk-ins. Simply put, they’re ideal for drive thru operations. These units are factory pre-assembled and tested for plug-and-go connection. In addition to increasing capacity, our fast track installation gets companies up and running quickly and back on the road to financial recovery faster than an Amazon Prime account delivery. Plus, it’s a much more cost-effective alternative to brick and mortar construction, lessening the burden of more significant investments. With a wide range of finishes and a variety of materials and colors, including architectural panel, brick, or stone, a new or additional drive thru could integrate nicely with an existing building and meet virtually any municipality requirements.

For fast food restaurants like McDonald’s, drive-thrus typically account for two-thirds of sales. During the pandemic, ordering off the McDonald’s menu in the drive thru lane has increased sales to 90%. In 2019, Chipotle had 10 drive-thrus. This year it has 100 “Chipotlanes” which translates into hiring 10,000 more workers.

Panera Bread sales generated by drive-thrus have doubled during the crisis. About half of the restaurants have drive thru lanes and Panera plans to build more drive-thrus in the future.

Starbucks is revamping its U.S. footprint with a focus on convenient access. That means adding more drive-thrus over the next 12 to 18 months. Who needs to Google, “ Starbucks Near Me ”, with that many locations on the horizon? In the most recent quarter, 90% of its sales volume came from drive-thru lanes or order ahead and pay from mobile devices like an iPhone.

Consumers are looking for contactless access to their favorite restaurants. Drive-thrus prove to be a lifeline for fast-food chains. Many chains that already had drive-thru lanes plan to increase their number and are relying on partners like ICS by Everidge to maximize their walk-in storage and drive thru operations. The double-digit increase in revenue among drive-thrus through the pandemic has created a buyer frenzy among restaurant chains for real estate and cold storage solutions.

People want to stay in their cars. Americans prove that drive-thrus work. An outdoor walk-in could very well be what your business needs to get your drive thru up and running and help you survive this pandemic. As the country reopens in stages, drive-thru dining has become more reliable than shopping at the local Walmart. That’s unlikely to change anytime soon. Drive-thrus will remain a fixture now and in our post-pandemic lives. ICS by Everidge will be here every step of the way.

Download our informational PDF here.

Contact Greg Ginther at greg.ginther@icsco.com to learn more.