McDonald's Modifications Make Fast Food Faster

The operative word in the fast-food business is "fast" and a San Marcos architect has designed a new drive-through window arrangement that, he and the chain believe, will make McDonald's fast food-service even faster.

Architect James Hernandez of the architecture and commercial and industrial contracting firm Hernandez & Associates explained that the present two-stage operation will be speeded by the addition of a third window.

As it is now, in those McDonald's restaurants that have drive-through service, the incoming car stops by a menu board equipped with a two-way speaker, the order is given, then the car drives to the pick-up window, pays for and receives the order.

The improvement consists of replacing the single window with two, one for paying and the other for food pick-up. Hernandez' reasoning is that the division will smooth and speed the traffic flow by eliminating or minimizing halts while a special or unusually large order is put together.

He said McDonald's restaurants with drive-through facilities can be modified and those without can be retrofitted.

The changeover entails an addition to the present building that adds about 10% to the restaurant's square footage--typically, 1,800 to 2,400 square feet, he said--and other construction, such as remodeling of the traffic pattern or the new construction of one. The cost typically runs between $30,000 and $50,000, he said.

Hernandez said McDonald's restaurant operators, at least the Los Angeles and San Diego areas, are being encouraged by the parent company to make the changeover but he didn't know how far beyond that the movement goes.

A question: If McDonald's is in the fast-food business, could it be said architect Hernandez is in the faster-food business?

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