Apr 8, 2019

Axios PM

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1 big thing: Lines, lines, lines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It's not just you: The lines at fast food drive-throughs have gotten much slower.

The big picture: Customers want fresher food with more customization, and restaurants are struggling to keep up.

  • The average wait time at chain drive-throughs is now 3 minutes and 54 seconds, up from 3 minutes and 10 seconds in 2003, per industry trade pub QSR.
  • “We’ve almost quit doing fast food because they are not fast food any more,” stay-at-home mom Michelle Hancock told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Recruiter Ramonda Coleman on how she handles a long line: “I go to the next shortest line place.”

By the numbers: Here's the average wait time for a fast food drive-through in 2018, compiled by QSR...

  1. Burger King 3:13
  2. Dunkin' Donuts 3:20
  3. KFC 3:38
  4. Wendy's 3:48
  5. Taco Bell 3:57
  6. Arby's 3:58
  7. Carl's Jr. 4:13
  8. Hardee's 4:16
  9. Chick-fil-A 4:21
  10. McDonald's 4:33

Flashback: Wendy's average wait time in 2003 was less than 2 minutes.

What's next: The chains are hustling to get ahead of this trend.

  • McDonald's paid $300 million for sales assistant software Dynamic Yield to better personalize its menus.
  • The CaliBurger chain is installing a robotic fry cook: "Flippy ... which will be installed in up to 10 of CaliBurger's 50 locations, can turn patties on a grill and clean it."
  • And Yum Brands bought a 3% stake in GrubHub in 2018.

The bottom line: The days of simple orders, kept warm under heat lamps, feel long past. But the question of whether customers will adjust their patience in response seems less certain.

Bonus: Pic du jour

Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Tiger Woods and caddie Joe LaCava on the 13th during a practice round ahead of The Masters.

2. What you missed
  1. An IED outside Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan killed 3 U.S. service members and 1 contractor while wounding 3 others, NATO said today.
  2. Actress Felicity Huffman, 12 other parents and the former head coach of men's tennis at the University of Texas have agreed to plead guilty after being charged in a college admissions scheme. Read Huffman's apology.
  3. U.S. Secret Service director Randolph "Tex" Alles will be leaving his post, as CNN first reported.
  4. The Chinese woman charged with illegally entering Mar-a-lago last month was found with 9 USB drives, 5 SIM cards and a signal detector.
  5. The Trump administration has designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization. Details.
3. 1 powerful thing

In an essay for The Players Tribune, Kyle Korver of the Utah Jazz confesses his shortcomings on race and describes awakening to his privilege.

  • "There’s an elephant in the room that I’ve been thinking about a lot over these last few weeks."
  • "It’s the fact that, demographically, if we’re being honest: I have more in common with the fans in the crowd at your average NBA game than I have with the players on the court."
  • "[I]’ve really started to recognize the role those demographics play in my privilege."
  • "How can I — as a white man, part of this systemic problem — become part of the solution when it comes to racism in my workplace? In my community? In this country?"

Worthy of your time.