You have changed, so companies have tried to change too.
They have adapted to your new ways during the pandemic. They are still trying to adapt to the different ways you behave as the pandemic becomes one of life’s constant presence.
It doesn’t always go smoothly.
The fast food business is fascinating in so many ways, but the sudden preference for drive-thru and delivery over eating in one? burger king or McDonald’s fast food companies have caused significant heartburn.
Just as McDonald’s and friends were experimenting with ordering robots from the drive-thru, those drive-thru’s got clogged up like sick hearts.
Not so long ago I called a Chick-fil-A in Santa Barbara, California. It had become so popular that the municipality was prepared to declare it a public nuisance† No, not because fried chicken is bad for you, but because it caused massive traffic jams on the city’s State Street.
There seemed to be no way for any technology to fix it. Even though I suggested a few alerts via Waze and Google Maps could have helped. Example: “Do you really want Chick-fil-A? Well, it’s going to take you another 67 minutes to get it. Do you really need it?”
Instead, Chick-fil-A opted for curiously analogous solutions, like signs discouraging cars at the drive-thru from backing into the street, guards to enforce what the signs said, upgrading the kitchens and even, oh yes, communicate with customers about the problem.
Amazingly, this worked, like Chick-fil-A and the municipality concluded that the traffic problem had largely disappeared† So no more threats with a public nuisance.
Then maybe Chick-fil-A might have some hints for his fellow fast fooders at McDonald’s.
A certain McDonald’s, though. This is located in the suburb of Cremorne in Sydney, Australia. The drive thru has also become very popular, during and after the pandemic.
Of course McDonald’s thought it was an idea to build a second drive thru lane. Of course there was local resistance.
No, not because Big Macs aren’t good for you. Wait, yes, because Big Macs are not good for you.
McDonald’s insisted there would be no adverse effects on traffic. Local officials from the Northern Sydney Local Health District tried to push that argument through. They claimed that there had been insufficient analysis of the potential problems.
However, they had another, much more emotional objection. They insisted the locals were already too big and could live without another McDonald’s drive-in lane.
Like Australia’s news.com reportedthe health department said: “There is also concern that increasing access to fast food, through an expanded drive-thru, could negatively affect the eating habits of children and adults and undermine the population’s existing health strategies to tackle obesity.” .”
Some may worry that a single extra drive-in lane won’t have too much of an impact on obesity levels. The craving for fast food encompasses a wide variety of elements such as speed, cost, convenience and the fact that some of it tastes really good.
There are plenty of options.
Indeed, you may feel that the local health authority just really doesn’t want this extra lane.
It urged that a community health center opposite the Cremorne McDonald’s might have fewer local parking spaces, as the new drive-in lane would reduce the number of parking spaces at the McDonald’s.
So now the burger chain has a problem. Will it do what Chick-fil-A did and cooperate with the local authorities?
Or will it find another, more dastardly way to get its new drive-in lane built?
I’m sure McDonald’s has taken all due care. For example, it seems that obesity rates in Cremorne were only (relatively) only 19% in 2020compared to the state’s suburban average of 33%.
But these things can be complex. What happened in 2021, when everyone went to the drive thru?
I fear this could be a long affair.
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