Drive-thru lanes have been around for decades, popularized by the car culture of Southern California — the birthplace of iconic quick-service brands such as McDonald’s, In-N-Out Burger and Carl’s Jr.

Early iterations of drive-up or drive-thru ordering lanes include a single lane with a two-way speaker or parking stalls manned by roller skating carhops. For decades, drive-thru lanes have been the main driver of sales at fast-food chains, generating anywhere from 60% to 70% of sales.

Yet, up until the past year, innovation at the drive-thru has been largely scarce. But that’s about to change as McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Shake Shake and Burger King are developing modern drive-thru lanes to fit the needs of today’s consumer.


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