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June 26th, 2011

The Oddness of the Portillo’s Drive-Thru

It’s been a while since I mentioned Portillo’s, a local chain famous for their fast food standards – and drive-thru cake. Whenever I visit their drive-thru, I’m struck by how oddly inefficient it really is.

The drive-thru is set up as most modern ones are: a speaker and menu followed by two windows. Sometimes the first window is used, sometimes it isn’t. But Portillo’s goes a step farther: in lieu of using the speaker and windows, one interacts with… people.

So there’s a person standing near (or before) the speaker, another person taking money after the speaker, and another person bringing your food to your car. The only time I can imagine this making sense is when lines are very long around lunchtime, but Portillo’s uses these duplicate people even when lines are short. Once, I was the only person in the drive-thru at an odd hour (mid-afternoon) and somehow, I was greeted by people.

I haven’t seen this take place at any other drive-thru ever in my life, so I’m wondering if it truly is unique to Portillo’s. One would think that if these people are overcoming, say, a design flaw in the way the drive-thru is laid out, the company would stop building them that way. But instead, we get the awkwardness.

Posted in Consumer Commentary, Food and Beverage, Just Plain Odd

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