The drive-thru wait at fast food restaurants gets longer

Dunkin’ is clocked as the quickest server in a performance study.

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An employee dressed as the fast food chain’s mascot serves a customer at a Wendy’s drive-thru in Columbus, Ohio.


It’s not your imagination: When you go through fast food drive-thrus, you are spending more time waiting.

Customers spent 20 seconds more time on average waiting for food in a drive-thru line in 2019, according to a performance study from restaurant trade publication QSR Magazine

The study found customers this year spent an average of 255 seconds going from the speaker to place their order to the window to pick up their order.

The study involved more than 1,500 visits to 10 fast food chains, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell and Chick-fil-A. Visits were conducted across the country, and at different times during the day between June 1 and Aug. 1, according to QSR.

The study found Dunkin’ had the fastest drive-thru times, with an average of just over 216 seconds. Wendy’s and Burger King were second- and third-fastest, respectively.

Chick-fil-A finished last, with an average time of over 322 seconds, the study found. The magazine notes that Chick-fil-A has attempted several strategies to help speed up their drive-thrus, such as stationing employees with iPads outside to take orders and payments.

Multiple restaurants offer ordering via smartphone app, allowing users to place their orders in advance, then pick them up at the desired location. Last month, McDonald’s acquired Aprente, a Silicon Valley startup specializing in voice-based ordering technology, to help shorten drive-thru wait times.

According to QSR’s study, here are the average speeds of service by seconds:

  1. Dunkin’: 216.75 seconds
  2. Wendy’s: 230.38
  3. Burger King: 235.48
  4. Taco Bell: 240.38
  5. Carl’s Jr.: 240.51
  6. KFC: 243.73
  7. Arby’s: 263.46
  8. Hardee’s: 266.34
  9. McDonald’s: 283.05
  10. Chick-fil-A: 322.98


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