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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.

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