In the urban environment, it's easy to forget the power of the drive-thru, seeing as many of us don't drive cars. But for the top fast food restaurants in the country (which are called QSR's in the industry: quick serve restaurants) the drive-thru is where they make 65 percent of their profit, according to Frank Amoruso, president and chief operating officer of HyperActive
Technologies Inc., a provider of restaurant technology solutions, in this piece in QSR Magazine. Yes! There is a trade magazine dedicated to fast food! I know, I'm excited too.

 

In another telling and in-depth exploration of the science of the drive thru, Bloomberg Business Week's Karl Taro Greenfield went behind the counter a Taco Bell to see how they manage to deliver a complete meal within 164 seconds of placing the order. It's quite a science.

 

In trying to perform the regular duties of someone working the drive-thru, Greenfield's most challenging task is assembling the Crunchwrap Supreme, which contains both a crunchy tostada shell and a soft flour tortilla. He goes on to write:

 

"It's as if the great advances of human civilization, in everything from
animal husbandry to mathematics to architecture to manufacturing to
information technology, have all crescendoed with the Crunchwrap
Supreme, delivered via the pick-up window."

 

The article is a fascinating read and will make you think twice next time you're held up in a fast food line for more than a few minutes. Greenfield quotes the following fact about Taco Bell's peak business hours:


"One of their discoveries was that at some locations, 70 percent of the business was coming through the drive-thru, and 80 percent of that was coming in about 90 minutes of peak time around lunch. That meant that 56 percent of the total business was being conducted at one window in one and a half hours."

"One of their discoveries was that at some locations, 70 percent of the business was coming through the drive-thru, and 80 percent of that was coming in about 90 minutes of peak time around lunch. That meant that 56 percent of the total business was being conducted at one window in one and a half hours."@font-face {
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That is quite a few Crunchwrap Supremes, which, by the way we think is one of Taco Bell's complex concoctions that was parodied not long ago by Saturday Night Live: