The story of drive-thru started when soldiers at Fort Huachuca Army Base, US received a standing order to not wear their fatigues in public, they could not order their favourite hamburgers at the nearest McDonald’s anymore. So, McDonald’s franchisee David Rich installed a sliding window into the wall. The soldiers could now order and pickup without getting out of their cars.
It became a normal part and parcel of any restaurant opening in the US and looking at drive-thru as a key driver for the business growth. But Indians were never fancied of eating at a drive-thru, for them drive-thru meant another highway restaurant.
Luckily, coronavirus pandemic has changed the face of the restaurant sector with drive-thru becoming the latest boom among the global restaurant space in India. Starbucks, McDonald’s are some of the top restaurants who are betting big on drive-thru and highway locations during the coronavirus pandemic and it’s after effects to overcome the losses.
According to the experts now that more and more people are looking at contactless dining when ordering or dining at their favourite restaurants, drive-thru comes as a savior for restaurants especially in the fast food space wherein customers can just walk-in and pick their orders.
Globally, also we have seen top QSR chains like Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Chipotle Mexican Grill who have seen a double digit growth at the drive-thrus.
“Through the pandemic, there’s been a double-digit increase in revenue among those drive-thrus, and so it’s created a buyer frenzy among restaurant chains for that real estate,” said Aaron Allen, founder and chief executive of restaurant consultancy Aaron Allen & Associates to CNN.
Tata Starbucks Private Limited that is a joint venture between Starbucks global and Tata Group has opened its first drive-thru store in India at Dhillon Plaza, Ambala Chandigarh Expressway, Singhpura in Zirakpur.
The coffee chain is currently running over 187 stores, and a drive-thru in the mid of the pandemic might come as a vision of offering more ways for customers in India to enjoy the Starbucks Experience.
“The opening of our first drive-thru store showcases our commitment to evolving our brand and business in India and providing new and meaningful experiences to our customers. The drive-thru format offers added convenience for customers who want to pick up their orders from their car, or travelers on the go,” shared Navin Gurnaney, CEO, Tata Starbucks Pvt. Ltd during the launch of its first drive-thru in India.
The coffee chain also launched a digital marketing campaign with the tagline “Why wait for your brew, when you can drive-thru?” before its launch.
In India, McDonald’s opened its first drive-thru in In India in Navi Mumbai’s Kalamboli in 2001. And, over the last 20 years, drive-thrus have been a key driver for McDonald’s.
McDonald’s- North and East opened its Drive-thru lanes in 17 of its restaurants located in Gurgaon, Noida, Punjab and Haryana, earlier in May when dine-in was completely shut and delivery was allowed at select restaurants.
"Given the real estate rates in India, having additional space for vehicles to drive around a restaurant, in cities is next to impossible. This is a possible advantage only on highways where real estate is cheaper than cities, ground floor location is possible and also vacant space for vehicle's to enter and exit the restaurant is possible," pointed Amit Puri, Restaurant Business Consultant.
For additional safety to their customers, the burger chain also added plastic shields at Drive-thru windows and all restaurant staff wear face masks at all times.
“In QSR industry, convenience is very important. Not all days are the same for a McDonald’s consumer i.e. there are bad weather days, don’t have no time days, would rather eat in the car days, buying for the picnic days, my friend are waiting at the next bus stop days and so on and so forth. These are the days when ordering and picking up from the car makes a lot more sense than sitting at the restaurant,” McDonald’s shared in an old blog post.