Drive-Thru at Night - ©

McD’s Tests New Service Tweak: The Walkthru

We’ve been hearing stories for years about non-motorists trying to use fast food Drive-Thrus, with various outcomes – none that proved satisfactory for the pedestrians and cyclists involved. Now, perhaps in response to calls from the car-less, McDonald’s is test-marketing a Walk-Thru lane…

Walk-Thru in Wales - © nhyman41 via InstagramThe premier McDonald’s Walk-Thru window, in Llandudno, Wales.
It opened to rave reviews. No surprise to me…

It’s not only a matter of convenience during the day, when folks don’t want to wait in line inside the restaurant or just need to grab and go because time is short. At night, when the sit-down portion of the restaurant is closed and “-Thru’ is the only option, it’s a matter of safety for those on foot or bike.

But non-drivers have traditionally not been welcome at the traditional Drive-Thru windows. With some chains, it’s a hard-a-fast policy. If you’re not on four wheels, you gotta come into the store to order. There have been some nasty confrontations between insistent potential customers and Drive-Thru window staff over the rule.

It’s a natural

So why didn’t someone think of a Walk-Thru lane sooner? Well, it would take some serious building renovations to accommodate another Separate window in each restaurant building. The whole kitchen might have to be rearranged. And how do you keep the Walker and the Driver traffic streams separate. And how do you maintain the quick service promise of the Drive-Thru window when there are Walkers competing for grill time? It’s already super frustrating for in-store diners when there are a lot of Drive-Thru customers, since the Drive-Thru is, by hard-and-fast policy, the top priority for service.

Of course, the new touch-screen ordering system also being tested in various McRegions may prove useful at both the Drive-thru and Walk-Thru windows, as well as in the store. The reduced staff complement in such stores concentrate on preparing and serving the orders. That might speed things up enough to offset the drag placed on the conventional McDonald’s system by two ‘-Thrus’.

The bottom line

Yes, I’m glad to see them testing Walk-Thrus. All the fast food chains ought to be doing the same. As I said off the top, it’s a matter of safety as well as convenience at some times of the day.

No, I don’t see widespread implementation of Walk-Thru lanes anytime soon, because of the upheaval it would cause.

But we’ll be watching developments with interest…

~ Maggie J.