Bans on Drive-Thrus Continue

October 27, 2019
Bans on Drive-Thrus Continue

Some cities in the US and Canada have banned new drive-thru restaurants in an effort to combat societal and health issues such as curb pollution, obesity, and traffic.

One Canadian study of bans in 27 cities showed improved health results but a similar study in southern Los Angeles found increased obesity rates after the ban was implemented.

For additional information, see our previous OM in the News post on the ban Minneapolis placed on new drive-thrus.


Video Spotlight: Why Some US Cities Are Banning Drive-Thrus | TODAY


This post is based on the CBS News article, Cities ban new drive-thrus to fight climate change, by Kate Gibson, October 14, 2019, and the YouTube video, Why Some US Cities Are Banning Drive-Thrus | TODAY, by Today, October 11, 2019. Image source: Glow Images

Discussion Questions:

1. What can fast-food restaurants do to work around this new limitation to their core service process?

Guidance: Students will likely struggle to envision a new set of processes to replace the traditional drive-thru process.  Suggestions to stimulate idea generation: Consider the use of technology to order ahead and allow delivery by the store, the “old” drive-in model Sonic continues to provide.  Would the Sonic model violate the goals of the ban and likely be banned as well?  How can fast-food restaurants promote more dining inside the building? Would drones help with delivery in the future?  This discussion should promote more consideration of reengineering service delivery processes.

2. Would the bans be necessary if the average drive-thru processing times could be cut in half?

Guidance: Students should watch the second video included in the CBS News article, on average drive-thru times.  As menu options have increased in fast-food chains, so have drive-thru times increased.  Ask students to consider the relationship between an increase in the cooking time variations for so many food choices and increased drive-thru times.  The goal is to recognize that there are ways to reduce drive-thru wait times.

Then, the issue is whether increased throughput might reduce the incentive to place bans on fast-food drive-thru venues.  If emissions control is improved by reducing idling cars in a waiting line, then the ability to keep the line moving is the real problem that needs to be solved.  This is a thought provoking exercise and is intended to have students consider both the waiting line improvement issue as well as the root cause of the perceived need for a ban.

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