Eight out of 10 U.S. consumers (83 percent) have enjoyed a meal or a snack at a restaurant drive-through this year, according to a Frisch’s Big Boy Restaurants nationwide survey that underscores the enduring popularity of this quintessentially American activity.

At Frisch’s, the drive-through service now accounts for 30 percent of overall revenue. Additionally, drive-through sales have been on the rise for the past five years at the Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana locations. To celebrate the introduction of three new car-friendly, portable breakfast burritos, plus free coffee with any drive-through burrito purchase in September, Frisch’s asked diners across the nation about their drive-through preferences. In one key finding, the survey shows that Americans crave flexibility.

Seven out of 10 consumers (70 percent) said they’d order a burger for breakfast. More men (82 percent) would order a burger for breakfast than women (58 percent). “Our drive-through opens at 6 a.m. and if you want a burger, we’ll make it fresh. Unlike other restaurants, at Frisch’s, you can get anything you want anytime,” Frisch’s CEO Jason Vaughn says.

Here are other drive-through secrets revealed by the survey:

  • 42 percent of Americans said that other than speed or convenience, the main reason they choose the drive-through is they just don’t feel like parking and walking inside. That far outdistanced the next closest response—I don’t feel like dealing with people (16 percent).
  • Other reasons were having kids in the car, being on the phone, and not being dressed appropriately.
  • A much higher number of 18-to-24-year-old Millennials, 31 percent, said they use the drive through because they don’t feel like dealing with people.
  • There are two kinds of people, those who check the bag and those who don’t. Those who never leave the window without checking are the majority, at 53 percent. Just 35 percent said they trust the drive-through attendant to get the order correct.
  • The split is far more even on the eat-in-the-car versus wait-until-you-get-there issue: 39 percent eat in the car, 35 percent wait.

“These results will come as no surprise to burger fans,” says Chef Greg Grisanti, Frisch’s director of research and development. “Big Boy is not just for lunch anymore.”

In fact, the Big Boy sandwich is one of the top 10 most sold items at Frisch’s between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. The Frisch’s survey shows that Americans are sold on exchanging pleasantries, but not sold on drive-through upselling. Fifty-nine percent of consumers said they are appreciative if the attendant asks about their day, versus just 14 percent who don’t like to chat, while 38 percent said they prefer not to be asked if they’d like to order additional menu items, versus 34 percent who appreciate being asked. Get nervous ordering at the drive-through? Nearly six out of 10 Americans (59 percent) said the drive-through menu is hard to read, especially when there is a line behind them.

The three new Frisch’s breakfast burritos include a sausage, egg, cheese and hash brown burrito; a bacon, egg, cheese and hash brown burrito; and Hog Heaven, featuring sausage, bacon, egg, cheese and hash browns. “Now that school is back in session, we developed these new breakfast burritos to give busy families a fresh way to eat on the go,” Vaughn adds.

Other highlights from the drive-through survey:

  • 57 percent of consumers said extra condiments or sauces are the items they most often request at the drive-through; napkins followed at 52 percent. Fifteen percent requested water or ice.
  • 25 percent of consumers said they feel satisfied when they eat in the car, while 25 percent said they feel sloppy when they eat in the car.
  • 70 percent said their parents allowed them to eat in the car.
  • 56 percent said the meal they’re most likely to visit the drive-through for is lunch (27 percent dinner, 17 percent breakfast).

The Frisch’s survey had 523 respondents and was conducted across the U.S. from August 2 to August 5. Respondents were males and females over the age of 18. 

Casual Dining, Chain Restaurants, Industry News, Frisch's