Statistics show that 83% of American families eat fast food at least once a week. About 10% of your annual income goes towards it on average. So it’s not hard to see why other businesses might want to adopt a fast food model for their own business. Even if their own business doesn;t lend itself to that style whatsoever. Nonetheless, the rise in drive–thru businesses that are not fast food related at all shows that people like convenience or, at least, not getting out of their cars.
10. Drive-Thru Strip Shows
The idea of a drive thru is to get something quickly and conveniently. It saves you time and gets you on your way again. It lends itself to a product or service you can take advantage of in a fast way. Food can be handed to you quickly, or you could do banking at a machine in a few minutes. Speed is integral to the idea. Which is why a drive-thru strip show seemed especially confusing when they began to appear during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now sure, we were advised to practice social distancing so any kind of drive-thru made more sense than in person business. But a strip show involves sitting and watching another person take their clothes off while they dance. It was, by definition, a kind of drawn out process. Nonetheless, a few businesses tried their hand at it.
One club in Vegas was letting patrons drive up to the door, pay $100, and watch a 10 minute show from their car. This included nude wrestling in hand-sanitizer. They shut things down when the governor ordered all non-essential businesses to close.
9. Drive-Thru Funerals
Like many businesses, funeral homes had to find a way to deal with social distancing during the pandemic. Thus, drive-thru funerals became a more prominent way to experience funeral services around the globe. The government of Ontario in Canada even set up guidelines for running them.
Social distancing was not the impetus for the creation of a drive-thru funeral home, however. In fact, stories of this service being offered date back more than a decade. In 2011, the Robert L. Adams Mortuary in Compton was the first drive thru funeral home to operate in California. The idea was that, if a person who was well known to the community passed away, a drive thru would enable a larger number of people to come and pay their respects without people worrying about things like parking or crowds. Detroit’s drive-thru funeral home dates back to 1971.
Chicago actually had a drive-thru funeral home set up all the way back in 1989. The selling point here was also a time saver for professionals and also a matter of convenience for older and disabled people who would have trouble getting in and out of the building.
8. Drive-Thru Wedding Chapels
On the opposite side of the spectrum from drive-thru funerals is the drive-thru wedding. These seem to be most popular in tourist spots like Las Vegas where people want to get things done fast with little hassle. In Canada, you can get the same thing done in cities like Niagara Falls.
They’ve been around for some time. Arguably the most famous of them the Little White Chapel in Vegas where even Frank Sinatra once got married, added a drive-thru back in 1991.
Word is that, until 1996, you could even potentially have a Catholic drive-thru wedding until the Church banned it, along with Disney weddings.
7. Drive-Thru Brothels
If you thought a drive-thru strip club was a little intense, you may want to sit down for this one. In parts of Europe, the drive-thru brothel has become a business offering the convenience of a drive-thru with the amenities of, you know, a brothel.
Not an innovation brought on by Covid, these booths from Zurich, Switzerland date back to 2013 when they were installed after 52% of voters decided they wanted them. They look like car wash booths in which you pull in and either invite your partner to join you in the car or get out and make use of the wooden benches. Data after several years suggested that the booths had greatly improved the safety of the city’s sex workers.
The thinking here is that sex work is a reality and pretending it isn’t helps no one. So they designated an area where it could happen legally and safely. Customers go to the part of town where the booths are located and a sex worker goes to a booth with them. In Cologne, Germany, the driver’s door can’t open but the passenger door can, making it easier for the workers to make a getaway if they need to. There’s an emergency call button and also on-site social workers.
6. Drive-Thru Graduations
Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic a lot of social activities had to be canceled entirely or adapted to fit the restrictions put in place. One of those things that was adapted in many locations was graduation ceremonies. Students were still attending school and still wanted to have that moment where they got to receive their diploma. But with rules in place limiting the number of people who could gather at one time and how far apart everyone had to be, some schools got creative.
The drive-thru graduation was tried at a number of schools. The process was curious but at least it gave students and their families the opportunity to experience something. For some, they arrived at staggered times. The graduate would get out of the car while their family stayed behind and slowly followed their progress from the moving vehicle. The graduate, six feet from the next graduate, proceeded to the school principal, got their diploma, took some photos, and then got back in the car.
Other schools were a little less ceremonial. Cars would arrive and the diploma would be handed through the window. The car drove off and the family could find a place elsewhere to take photos to celebrate the moment.
5. New Orleans and Houston Have Drive-Thru Daiquiri Bars
If you had to make a list of the things you shouldn’t do while driving, there are probably just a small handful that would be right at the top that everyone would agree with. We all know texting while driving is bad, you don’t want to do that. And of course drinking and driving is a very bad idea. The first American arrest for driving while drunk happened back in 1910, so we’ve been on top of this for a while now.
Remarkably, despite the extremely well known issues related to drinking and driving, there are cities that have drive-thru daiquiri bars. People may make fun of the idea of drive-thru liquor stores which exist in many different places, but those make a lot more sense. Liquor stores sell closed liquor, after all. And it’s not like driving to a liquor store and parking then going in to buy a bottle of vodka is somehow more appropriate than getting the same bottle at a drive-thru window. But a daiquiri bar is selling mixed, frozen drinks.
Playing with some very sketchy legal rules, bars in New Orleans are able to sell daiquiris provided the drink is frozen, the cup is sealed, and the straw stays taped to the side of the cup for as long as it’s in the vehicle. So basically it’s the honor system. They mix you a drink and you promise not to drink it while you’re in the car.
A bar in Johannesburg made the rule that patrons have to park the car first and can only buy four drinks. In Houston, thirsty motorists could get both daiquiris and margaritas as long as they were made with wine or beer and not any distilled alcohols like tequila or rum. The container had to be sealed if it was going into a car but sealed seems to mean “has a lid.”
4. Drive-Thru Ash Wednesday Service
According to surveys, one in three millennials just find church boring. Church attendance has been going down for some years but there have been efforts to make it more appealing to people. One of those is a drive-thru Ash Wednesday service.
One church in Wisconsin started offering drive-thru services in 2019 for people on their way to work. They could get a free coffee, a prayer from the pastor and drive off with the ash mark on their heads in just a few minutes.
Another church in Vancouver had the same idea. Cars just pull up and honk, the minister comes out and boom, ash on the forehead to start Lent. As the minister noted, it’s a lot easier to get people in a church on their day off than in the middle of the week, so it was seen as a reasonable compromise.
3. Drive-Thru Voting
What’s a thing everyone should do but not enough people do? Vote. So the idea of drive-thru voting almost makes too much sense, allowing quick and easy voting for many. The concept has been floated for years, with some proponents of it insisting as far back as 2008 that it was something that needed to be implemented across the country.
The concept has been tried out in places like Calgary and on a smaller scale in Connecticut during the Covid-19 pandemic. There was 24-hour drive-thru voting in Texas, of all places, if only for a short time, and other cities are still toying with the idea.
Various criticisms of drive-thru votes have ranged from the fact that a passenger could coerce someone to bumper stickers in line affecting the vote. So far the idea has yet to achieve a lot of widespread use.
2. Get Shucked Is an Oyster Bar with a Drive-Thru For Oyster Buckets
Fast food is an interesting concept because it can only work if it follows certain rules. We go to restaurants for literally all kinds of food, but fast food restaurants typically operate in a fairly narrow subset of those foods. Burgers, tacos, fried chicken, sandwiches. You’ll find very few other restaurants operating a fast food model. Not many drive-thrus offer up cassoulet or lobster. Some foods are sit down foods.
Head to Australia and you’ll find Get Shucked, a seafood restaurant that refuses to believe a drive-thru has limitations. At their drive-thru you can get a bucket of oysters on the go, just a hop, skip and a jump from where they’re actually sources. The place sells very little else besides drinks, so at least they know what they’re doing when it comes to mollusks.
1. An Illegal Pot Cookie Drive-Thru
New York chef Sebastian P. Kujawa was either brilliant or stupid or maybe both when he came up with his drive-thru business plan. The 23-year-old was out of work so he figured he could put his cooking skills to use and started baking homemade cookies. So far so good. But then he laced them with pot. Which is still arguably okay with most people, but it was not okay with local law enforcement.
Every day, Kujawa would head to a dead-end street near his house and hide out in the bushes, his version of an impromptu drive-thru. A car would pull up to the bushes and the chef would pop out and fill their order.
Neighbors dropped a dime on the man after watching him perform transactions for a while. Cops discovered he’d been advertising on Craigslist and shut him down fairly quickly.