April 29, 2008

Why do fast food restaurants not allow “walk throughs”?

Many times I have found myself on my bike riding around town in the late evening and craving a burrito or a large fry. Yet as I saunter on up to the door of Taco Bell, I find that the dining room is closed. But wait… the drive through allows me to “eat great, even late.” Oh but actually, that is only for those with cars. Even though my bike is classified for law purposes as a street vehicle, I’m classified as a walk up at Taco Bell. And thus I am turned away with the response that due to corporate rule they cannot accept my business without me being in a vehicle. So why is this? Why would fast food restaurants turn away business just because I am not within the confines of a motor vehicle?

One reasoning I was given via a plastic sign at Wendy’s drive through window is “for the safety of the drive through employees, no walk ups are allowed in the drive through.” So evidently I’m more likely to shoot and rob an employee standing there on foot and be able to get away if I’m outside of a vehicle?! Yeah right, I don’t buy that for a second.

The conclusion I was able to come to is that it all surrounds control of the premises. Taco Bell doesn’t mind if you get food outside the store in a car because you are most likely going to take it off of their premises and eat and dispose of your garbage somewhere else so they don't have to deal with it. Likewise, when you sit down at the restaurant indoors, there are very convenient garbage receptacles that accommodate an easy clean up for the restaurant. The system then works very well as long as they can for the most part control how garbage is disposed within a limited area. However, for someone that comes walking up to the drive through… the likelihood is high that they will simply sit down on the curb in front of the store or in the grass in the median and eat right there. What does this mean? Even if the store were to put a garbage receptacle outside the store, the environment is much less controlled outside because of the unlimited space and additional factors like wind. Now the store has to deal with not only cleaning garbage on their own property but they have to deal with complaints from the gym across the street that ketchup packets were left on their lawn, etc. So in the name of cleanliness… drive your car! I bet that’s one you won’t hear very often.

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