I have seen the future and it comes in two orderly lines for styrofoam packages of Chinese food. China Feast (200 E. Linwood Blvd.) employs a twin drive-through system, with ordering stations on either side of the squat red and yellow building, from which it dispenses crab rangoon and two-piece fish specials.
I'll admit I've never eaten China Feast's fast-food, but I have heard stories of lesser men who broke down after a lengthy Costco trip -- the superstore is on the other side of Linwood -- and found themselves downing sweet and sour chicken that did not taste so very different from orange chicken.
But the food isn't the story here. It's the innovative twin drive-through that needs to be adopted by fast food franchises of all cuisine types.
When it comes to tweaking drive-throughs, fast food chains have tried a number of different approaches to speed up the process.
Menu boards are tweaked. Drinks are dispensed at the push of a button. Reservations can now be made. Even the ordering process has been outsourced. I've even tried to offer advice to fellow drivers on how they can keep the line moving. But the best average wait time is still 134 seconds per car at Wendy's, according to a 2009 performance study from QSR Magazine. Chick-fil-A has the best drive-through based on the same study, which measures the speed, accuracy and friendliness of service.
America can break that two-minute average wait time. It may seem like Roger Bannister's four-minute mile, but we will get there two delicious shakes at a time. Think of the economic boom that could come from adding a second drive-through to every fast food joint in the country. Not to mention the joy of timing which line is shorter, just as you do at toll booths and the grocery store.
The age of the twin drive-through is upon us. Let's take that giant leap for mankind.