HAIL THE HEIGHT OF CONVENIENCE
THE ‘DRIVE- THROUGH’ CONCEPT IS ON THE RISE IN MANCHESTER
DRIVING around in your car to pick up your burgers, pasties, doughnuts and sausage rolls... the height of convenience or the lowest form of laziness?
Whatever you think of the drive-through concept, there’s no doubting it’s dramatically on the rise.
Greggs the bakers became the latest business to cater for its car-driving customers by launching its first ever drive-through in the UK, right here in Irlam last month. It’s had so much interest that bosses are now eyeing more sites for UK drive-throughs.
At one time it would only be McDonalds or KFC fast food joints that you would find with a drive-through option, but now a growing list of food and drink retailers are cottoning on to the clear consumer appeal - with Starbucks and Costa coffee chains opening more and more drivethroughs.
The idea of the ‘drive through’ was pioneered in America in the 1930s, and in the States the wealth of services now offered via the medium sees everything from drivethrough banking to even a drive-through wedding chapel!
Things haven’t gone quite that far here yet, but there are signs that other retailers are looking to the drive-through concept for expansion.
Supermarkets including Asda and Tesco have started to offer drivethrough stations at larger stores for customers to get their click and collect online orders in one convenient sweep in their cars.
And earlier this year Debenhams announced it was trialling a drivethrough offering over the Valentine’s period – to help panicked partners to buy a limited selection of products through a drive-through window at the Trafford Centre store.
But it is in the food world where the drivethrough concept truly excels, and where there has been rapid expansion ever since McDonalds opened their first drive-through in Europe – back in 1985 in Dublin.
While some may scoff at the health implications of driving to get your fill of pastry products at Greggs or a 12-box of doughnuts at Krispy Kreme (the latter of which you can do day or night at their 24-hour store), there’s no doubting that the convenience of being able to drive into, and swiftly out, of such establishments is a big selling point for many customers.
There’s no need to park up, and as anyone with young families will testify, the convenience of grabbing your coffee, cakes or steak bake on the go without having to unstrap and untether all of your little ones can be a godsend.
We headed out to some of the raft of newer drive-throughs now available across Greater Manchester to examine what products you can get, and when.
Greggs, Liverpool Road, Irlam, M44 6FW
Opening hours: 6am to 9pm Monday to Friday, 7am to 7pm Saturday, 8am to 6pm Sunday.
Serving: Full range of Greggs bakery snacks – ranging from their classic sausage rolls and steak bakes, to the healthier range of salads.
Verdict: The newest drive-through on the block, this Irlam outpost for Greggs is already getting plenty of attention since launching last month. Indeed, on our visit staff excitedly informed us that they were expecting some visitors from AMERICA, after they had read about it being the “world’s first Greggs drive-through” on the internet and just had to experience it for themselves. As a new drive-through, it was all well planned, roomy to get around in the car, and the pastry products we plumped for were piping hot out of the window. Of all the products you’re going to try and eat inside your car, though, a Greggs sausage roll is undoubtedly going to leave the messiest trail of crumbs in its wake.
Krispy Kreme, Barton Dock Road, Stretford, M41 7PP
Opening hours: 24 hours.
Serving: An impressive variety of doughnuts, as well as a range of hot and cold beverages including some very tasty looking milkshakes.
Verdict: I can’t help but feel the drive-through may be in need of a little refresh – as the intercom was broken on our visit and the menus looked a little weather-beaten. However once at the window to order you are seduced by the sweet heady scent of the doughnuts which are working their way around a conveyor belt inside the store. It is a strong person who can resist that sight and smell and leave without buying one. I plump for a six box of doughnuts, choosing the new peanut butter and jelly option as well as the classic ring donut. The store assistant was super-friendly and he reckoned there really ARE people queuing in their cars at 3am to get their sugar fix of donuts. Bonkers.
Starbucks, Barton Dock Road, Stretford, M41 7ZA
Opening hours: 24 hours.
Serving: The usual Starbucks range of toasted sandwiches, cakes and hot and cold drinks.
Verdict: By far the biggest queue of the drive-throughs we visited, the lure of coffee appears to be strong. I can’t imagine who is going to want a coffee in the middle of the night, but it remains open 24 hours a day. I particularly liked the notice as we queued around the drive through saying: “Stay in your car at all times”. No walking through this drivethrough then! I’m not massively impressed with the layout of the drivethrough though, which involves a very tight turn back out onto the road.
Costa, White City Retail Park, Chester Road, Manchester M16 0RP
Opening hours: 6am to 9pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 9pm Saturday, 8am to 8pm Sunday.
Serving: Like Starbucks, you can expect the usual Costa range of sandwiches, cakes and coffees.
Verdict: Another recently opened store, so it’s all very clean, shiny and easy to read menus and displays in the drive-through. We had to wait a little longer for our order than at other drive-throughs, perhaps because I ordered one of the newly launched drinks – the coffee banoffee frappucino. Like Starbucks though, it also has quite a tight turn back onto the road off the industrial estate, which can be a little tricky to negotiate at busier times. Just make sure your coffee is NOT in your hand when attempting this.