Hangry? Maybe avoid the Chick-fil-A drive-through and try Dunkin’ instead

Hangry? Maybe avoid the Chick-fil-A drive-through and try Dunkin’ instead
[Photo: Micheile Henderson/Unsplash]

A drive-through order at a fast-food chain requires you to wait an average of about 255 seconds in 2019, up around 20 seconds from last year, according to a new survey by QSR, a magazine for the quick-service and fast-casual restaurant industry.


In case you’re too busy salivating to do the math, the current average tally for the short-but-seems-like-miles drive from speaker to pickup window is four minutes and 15 seconds.

Of the 10 chains QSR looked at, Chick-fil-A was the slowest, at an average 322.98 seconds, while the quickest was Dunkin’, at 216.75.

Here’s the full list:

  • Dunkin’, 216.75
  • Wendy’s, 230.38
  • Burger King, 235.48
  • Taco Bell, 240.38
  • Carl’s Jr., 240.51
  • KFC, 243.73
  • Arby’s, 263.46
  • Hardee’s, 266.34
  • McDonald’s, 284.05
  • Chick-fil-A, 322.98

Speed of service can be linked to the complexity of a restaurant chain’s menu, because a dish or a drink that requires more steps will take longer to make—and to get into the hands of hangry customers. Another possible cause: the growing number of consumers who use mobile order and pay options to select their food; patrons still need to drive over to pick up their food and beverages.

The research also identified which times of days are faster than others.

  • Breakfast (5-9 a.m.), 238.84
  • Mid-Morning (9-11:30 a.m.), 250.57
  • Lunch (11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.), 255.68
  • Dinner (4-7 p.m.), 258.28
  • Late Afternoon (1:30-4 p.m.), 274.71

Some chain restaurants, such as McDonald’s and Starbucks, are using technology as a way to speed up drive-through times.

The 2019 QSR Drive-Thru Performance Study data were collected from 1,503 visits to restaurants across the United States between June 1 and August 1, QSR explained.

Meanwhile, the National Restaurant Association, together with Technomic, released research today that looks at how to harness technology to drive off-premises sales. That report found that 92% of consumers use drive-throughs at least once a month and that 35% of quick-service restaurant customers place drive-through orders.

When it comes to drive-throughs, the researchers found that “consumers are looking for screens to track order accuracy, touchscreen ordering, LED menu boards and frictionless payment options, including the ability to pay ahead and more mobile payment options.”