Again south of the Fraser River the editor of the Delta Optimist weighs in on the need for his morning “double double”. And he is not in a mood to be trifled with. In a surprising 4 to 3 vote Delta council defeated an application to “build a Tim Hortons on a vacant lot on Ladner Trunk Road just east of 64th Street.” And the editor states “When you tell people from outside Delta that your town doesn’t have a Tim Hortons, their incredulous response usually includes a query about whether you also lack indoor plumbing. ”
Kudos to Delta Council who didn’t want to build this ode to idling close to single family houses. This Tim Hortons was a functioning “fuel up drive through ” facility with just a hat trick of seats inside so you wouldn’t get comfortable.
The drive through facilities particularly impact small communities with populations of less than 15,000. I’ve seen a similar Tim Hortons drive through in Kensington Prince Edward Island take out the winter social spot of that small community and close out the adjacent tea shop. In Arnprior Ontario there is a 24 hour drive through, but there is also a massive eat in facility that has become the farmers’ late night hangout and a place that teens can gather.
Those fast food places love drive throughs. They make a lot of money for minimal customer service and time, taking your money in one window and passing the french fries out the other. Not only are there huge profit margins, but 65 per cent of McDonalds sales in the USA are through those drive in windows, and now 80 per cent of new McDonalds feature the drive through option. Drive through clientele are regular customers who buy fast food 25 to 30 times a month. As an industry insider posits “Most drive-thru customers are just stopping to fill their gut”. Drive through restaurants pride themselves at dealing with a customer within a specified time frame (normally around 200 seconds) and pride themselves at breaking records by pushing through the most cars served an hour.
There are limited sociability aspects in drive through fast food restaurant and certainly no way these facilities add to community placemaking. They are perhaps the sports car of fast food, whittling down the time needed to deal with pesky customers by not even allowing them to get out of the car.
But back to the defeated Ladner Tim Hortons. The editor of the Optimist misses the fact completely that a drive through mug of motordom does not a community make. His suggestion: “If a 24-hour drive-thru is indeed a deal breaker, perhaps the hours could be reduced or some other modifications made. Something needs to happen because, my dear Delta council members, Ladner needs a Tim Hortons.”