Food & Dining

10 Quickest Drive-Thru Restaurants

No matter the reason you’re in a rush, finding a drive-thru restaurant with both quick and friendly service can be a challenge sometimes.

Are there kids piled into the car with you? Are you on your way from one meeting to another? Is your day jam-packed with errands? If you don’t have enough time to actually slow down and sit down for a meal, the occasional stop at a drive-thru restaurant is a great solution. Not only are menu items often cheaper, but the service is quick and efficient.

You may not be aware of this, but most drive-thrus actually have a system that times their efficiency. Depending on the system that’s used, different metrics for each location will be measured, including how long it takes the order to make it from the register to the window, order accuracy, and even specifically how long greeting the customer takes.

Chances are if you catch the server at the window glancing to the side a few times, they’re keeping an eye on this tracker and making sure they’re in the green. It’s just another way that these franchises make sure they’re serving their customers efficiently and effectively.

Most recently average speed-of-service averaged about 234 seconds compared to last year’s slightly quicker 225 seconds. The national average comes in at around 190 seconds.

Here’s a list of our top ten best drive-thru restaurants, and what makes them work:

Dunkin Donuts

A well-loved favorite of America, Dunkin Donuts appeared on the scene in 1950 and has held a spot in fast-food breakfast cuisine as one of the cheapest and quickest places to get coffee, donuts, bagels, and more.

How fast are they? Average service time is 200.74 seconds, not too bad considering their expansive menu, which is incredibly easy to order from.

With a reward program that keeps customers coming back, the company is also expected to up the ante with a mobile order only lane for their drive-thrus.

As far as their service, accuracy was rated at 89.6%, eye contact at 90.6%, and having a pleasant demeanor at 83.1%.

Burger King

Burger King also tops the list quite often for one of the quickest places of service.

How fast are they? Average service time is 193.31 seconds.

Although often compared negatively with other burger-centered restaurants in the industry, Burger King still holds a strong following, and that can definitely be related to their service.

Stand-by menu items include the Whopper, hashbrowns, King burger, and more.

Wendy’s

In a disappointing turn, Wendy’s average service time dropped from 180 in 2017 to 226.07 recently.

The company had previously managed to hold one of the top spots, but seems to have dropped this goal for others. Wendy’s is working on an ordering app for customers who want to order ahead of time and more efficiently. Previous tests with kiosks inside the actual buildings took a lot of attention away from the service line, and the change in focus may be why they’re lagging behind now.

However Wendy’s menu is holding strong. They’re still luring customers in with seasonal items as well as their classics, such as their frostys and spicy chicken sandwiches.

Chick-fil-a

Despite recent controversy over the personal beliefs of the owners, this restaurant has repeatedly been lauded as one of the most successful out there when it comes to fast food.

They’ve scored highest when it comes to customer service according to QSR magazine reports. That’s impressive in a world that can seem rather rushed. But how fast are they? Average service time comes in at 257.64 seconds, which doesn’t seem to put a damper on the draw they have with customers.

Menu items are varied and affordable considering what you get: wraps, nuggets, waffles, and more.

Taco Bell

This is an interesting restaurant to look at as there has been so much controversy in the past over ingredients and general hygiene. But everyone loves to hate Taco Bell; despite knowing what effect it may have on their stomachs later, the taco-based franchise has a strong following, especially when it comes to late night/early morning drive-thru orders.

How fast are they? Service time averaged 237 seconds from when customers ordered to when they received them. That seems pretty high considering their menu, and the items that get ordered the most, are pretty simple. Perhaps this fast-food option isn’t worth the price.

McDonald’s

The one restaurant on this list most synonymous with America has been clocked in at 273 seconds per order – one of the highest on our list.

But it’s also, easily, one of the most popular restaurants on our list, and that’s a large part of why their order average is so high. A crew can only get food out so quickly when they’re as busy as Mickey D’s always seems to be. With favorites that customers return for like the McMuffins and Big Macs, it’s clearly worth the wait if you’re looking for a true American experience. 

KFC

Over the last few years KFC has struggled to maintain their popularity in the world of fast food. They’ve been pegged as one of the restaurants with the most locations shutting down, and so it isn’t surprising that their customer order average is just shy of 231 seconds.

They’re still drawing back customers with their chicken-centered menu, but competitors have started to catch on, and are coming in on the more impressive side when it comes to service and efficiency.

Tim Horton’s

A homier rival of Dunkin, Tim Horton’s serves the basics: coffee and donuts. They’ve made a name for themselves as one of Canada’s most loved and fastest “quick serve” restaurants and their service time is an impressive 202.66 seconds.

Although not yet fully established in America, Tim Horton’s is tackling the scene with updated order systems, so keep an eye out for locations coming near you.

Arby’s

This restaurant may have come out of left field, as it isn’t one of the most popular options on this list.

Their belief is that “a great sandwich, a big smile, and getting all the right things in the bag doesn’t slow you down.” But it actually does, a bit. How fast are they? An average of 244 seconds per customer – but if you don’t mind waiting a few seconds longer, you’re guaranteed better, happier service, and good food.

Starbucks

A pricier side of Dunkin, Starbucks has been luring customers in for years with their top-of-the-line but affordable coffee. You won’t be paying 99 cents for a large, but it’s the quality that counts here. However the company doesn’t seem to have gotten quick service under control yet; perhaps they’re having the same issue that McDonald’s is with popularity? They come in at 299.80 seconds per transaction.

With their locations swamped daily, Starbucks has a diverse menu of ever-changing seasonal drinks with classic baked goods and healthy snacks.

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