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This Major Chicken Chain Is Turning Customers Away From the Drive-Thru

And offering a new solution.
FACT CHECKED BY Mura Dominko

We've all been there: impatiently fidgeting in our car, stomach rumbling, with a dozen cars ahead blocking our path to the drive-thru window. There's nothing quite as painful as a fast-food traffic jam several vehicles deep, especially when we're at our hungriest. While major chain restaurants have recognized the importance of speeding up their drive-thrus, one beloved chicken chain has gone a step further and is encouraging customers to skip the dreaded car line altogether.

Kentucky Fried Chicken is introducing Quick Pick Up, a new system that bypasses the drive-thru lane altogether and lets customers get their food faster. Patrons will simply place their order through KFC's app or website, drive to the restaurant, and park in a designated VIP spot. They'll then be able to pick up the order themselves off an in-store shelf. Patrons of Sweetgreen and Chipotle may recognize this approach—both fast-casual spots operate similarly when it comes to online orders.

RELATED: KFC Is Nearing the Completion Of Its Revolutionary New Product, Its President Says

This streamlined system is an admittedly unique move among fast-food chains. Discouraging the use of drive-thrus is the exact opposite of what many brands decided to do during the pandemic when attempting to provide alternatives to the shuttered dining rooms. Customers were able to stay confined to their own cars, avoiding COVID-19 while still enjoying their favorite combo meals.

But according to KFC's data, the pendulum might have swung too far: their drive-thru speed slowed down by a full 26 seconds in 2021, to a total wait time of 6 minutes and 30 seconds.

The fried chicken joint is getting ahead of any initial hesitancy to use the new Quick Pick Up system by rewarding participating patrons: for a limited time, you can enjoy a free large fry with any $5 Quick Pick Up purchase. Spending less time in lines and more time consuming fries? Sounds like an ideal holiday-season solution.

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Kaley Roberts
Kaley Roberts is a food writer. Read more