Since the drive-thru service was first introduced to the American fast-food scene, it has been a way of life for many a consumer. Whether a convenient dinner option grabbed while heading home from work, an efficient way to get a bite and keep moving during a road trip, or as a safer option than in-store dining during a global pandemic, the drive-thru service is a convenience we take for granted.
And in fact, we've now done so for one hundred years. The first drive-thru restaurant in America opened in 1921. It was called the Pig Stand and it started off as more of a drive-in, with meals delivered to parked cars rather than handed through a window. Ten years later, in 1931, a Pig Stand franchisee operating in Los Angeles began to offer window service akin to that which we know today. In the 1940s, In-N-Out opened up and initially focused on a quick drive-thru service.
Surprisingly, it wasn't until 1975 that McDonald's opened its first drive-thru. Today, the chain reports that well over half of its revenue comes from window service, according to Small Business.
If McDonald's could speed up its drive-thru service just a bit more, it might see those revenues grow, too. But as it is, the Golden Arches are just edged out of being in the top five fastest drive-thrus in America today, according to Motor1.
Since the drive-thru is all about convenience, it's all about the speed of service, too. Here are the major chains that operate the fastest drive-thrus, based on the latest report. For more, check out The One Change You May Notice at McDonald's Drive-Thru.
According to data put together by market research company SeeLevel HX, the average time a customer spends in the Burger King drive-thru before they get to have it their way and get underway is 344.3 seconds or 5.7 minutes. For reference, BK edged McDonald's out of the top five by a mere five seconds, with the McD's drive-thru experience averaging 349.3 seconds.
A mere three seconds faster than the Burger King drive-thru lane, customers at a Carl's Jr. can expect to spend 341.6 seconds of their lives between the time they enter the lane and leave with their Angus Thickburger or Really Big Carl.
Carl's Jr.'s sister company Hardee's manages to operate quite a bit faster than their counterpart, shaving exactly 21 seconds off their drive-thru wait times, with customers in and out in 321.6 seconds.
According to SeeLevel HX's data, Taco Bell customers spend 310.2 seconds in the drive-thru lane, which equates to just a hair over five minutes. This is not only 10 seconds faster than at Hardee's, but is also an improvement on the chain's own drive-thru times from 2019, according to Motor1.
If time is a serious factor for you, then seriously consider hitting up the KFC drive-thru, the fastest of them all, according to SeeLevel HC. Customers average just 283.3 seconds there, which is more than a full minute faster than at Burger King.
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