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Drive-Thru Lanes Add Value

The drive-thru lane is growing in demand during the pandemic among commercial spaces as more restaurants find it the perfect socially distanced workaround to continue to conduct business. Many restaurants have had limits on seating capacity during the COVID-19 outbreak, which has led them to turn to their drive-thru business to keep sales high.

As a result, commercial spaces that offer drive-thru lanes are a particularly hot commodity. A property with a drive-thru lane can fetch 10% to 20% higher rent compared to one without, Derek Waltchack, a partner at Shannon Waltchack, a real estate developer and property owner based in Birmingham, Ala., told The Wall Street Journal. In broadening its commercial portfolio, half of Shannon Waltchack’s properties now include a drive-thru lane or a layout that would allow for one.

Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, and more fast-food chains say they are seeing an increase in sales from their drive-thru windows. Other restaurants are starting to add them, including Shake Shack and Chipotle. Burger King announced plans for future restaurants designed with triple drive-thru lanes—with one of those lanes reserved for customers who order online.

Shake Shack plans to open its first drive-thru window in Orlando, Fla., this year, and also is adding locations in the suburbs to try to boost sales.

Some municipalities restrict drive-thru lanes due to concerns of increased traffic and the impact on neighboring businesses. Zoning changes usually must be approved to add a drive-thru, and those aren’t always easy to navigate.

Source: “Drive-Through Lanes Become Hotter Commodities in Pandemic,” The Wall Street Journal (March 2, 2021) [Log-in required.]