Since I live in the great big city of Chicago, I’m fortunate to live in a neighborhood where almost everything is walkable from my home, including a Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Dunkin’, and Burger King (paradise, I know). And now that we’re in the glorious days of summer, my main mode of transportation is walking.
That’s made me wonder about a pedestrian’s relationship to the drive-thru. If I have, say, a McDonald’s craving while I’m out walking and don’t want to enter the arctic AC-pumped dining room (or the dining room of the 24-hour location is already closed), could I potentially use the drive-thru to place a walk-up order?
Unfortunately for me, if I’ve coming home from the bar on foot and have the super-late-night munchies, McDonald’s won’t serve me in the drive-thru. Here’s an official statement from the Golden Arches explaining why. The website says:
Generally speaking, for safety reasons we cannot serve pedestrians and vehicles at the same outdoor service point. Vehicles need to pull up close to drive-thru service points to complete their orders and there are no pavements or safe areas for pedestrians to stand at these same points. It could also contravene the trading license or, in some cases, present a security risk.
However, at some restaurants, where the layout permits, we have installed a small number of separate pedestrian walk-up windows that are open outside of core restaurant hours (for those restaurants that operate a 24-hour drive thru).
It makes sense that McDonald’s doesn’t want anyone accidentally injured while picking up a 10-piece Chicken McNuggets and fries. Still, that’s a bummer for me. Those aforementioned pedestrian walk-up windows tend to be few and far between, though hopefully more locations install them in the future.
What about Burger King? The official BK Twitter account has a somewhat cheekier response:
“Attention customers: walking up to our drive thru window while playing engine noises on your phone doesn’t count as a car,” the 2015 tweet reads. I am guessing this is a rare occurrence, but if any of you have tried this, let me know immediately, since you’d be my new hero.
As for Wendy’s, according to users in this Reddit thread, the official stance is that Wendy’s will not serve pedestrians in the drive-thru. One Reddit user, speaking from an employee’s standpoint, replied, “Our company policy is we’re not allowed to take walk up orders through the drive thru. Safety reasons. If you’re not a dick about it I’ll usually take care of you. But it varies store by store.”
If you ever do happen to be served as a pedestrian in the drive-thru lane, it’s probably only because someone is bending the rules for you, so don’t expect that treatment every time. For us lucky walkers who are able to exist without the hassle of a car, the tradeoff is sacrificing drive-thru access.