National Drive-Thru Day celebrates restaurants that serve customers on the go.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, drive-thrus are a feature of many of the 251,000 fast food restaurants nationwide, which employ 4.4 million people and generate more than $253 billion in sales each year.
Drive-thrus aren’t just for fast food these days. In 2017, Gigi’s Cupcakes at 3794 Pepperell Parkway in Opelika became and remains the only Gigi’s franchise location with drive-thru service. Bakeries and cupcake shops generally depend on sight and smell for business, but for this particular business, its “Sweet Lane” drive-thru works.
“We’ve found our ‘regulars’ really love it,” said Patrick Cooper, who with his wife Jennifer, also owns Gigi’s Cupcakes locations in Montgomery and Columbus, Ga. “We have a lot of customers that already know what they want and can zip right through the drive-thru and get their favorites.”
For new customers, though, Patrick recommends coming in to see what Gigi’s has to offer.
During the height of shut downs due to the current global pandemic, drive-thrus accounted for much of the business at food establishments that offer that option.
“We really saw an increase in our drive through sales starting in late March/early April,” said Patrick. “We definitely captured some sales we may not have had otherwise. Many of our customers said they weren’t even aware we had a drive-thru, because they had always came in the store.”
Traffic has balanced back out now with more customers coming inside to pick out their sweet treats, he said, adding, “we are still serving lots of cars daily through the drive-thru.”
The Opelika Gigi’s “Sweet Lane” gives customers the option of satisfying their cravings without having to leave their vehicle.
Drive-thrus began in the late 1940s as a outgrowth of drive-in restaurants. Through necessity due to COVID-19 and occupancy limits, many eat-in restaurants continue to offer curbside service, a hybrid of drive-thru and drive-in.
“Curb service has been a life saver for our business,” said Costas “Gus” Katechis, whose family owns the 103-year-old Chris’ Famous Hot Dogs on Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue. “Many people are still using this service, but many people enjoy dining if available. We have limited our booths to every other booth and have outside dining.”
The food-service industry thanks its customers for continuing to support your favorite eateries however you can.
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