The New Way to Order Fast Food

You can file this under first world problems, but there is a current fast food trend that I don’t particularly care for. I have experienced it at places ranging from Taco Bell to Chick-fil-A and I personally don’t see much benefit to it. Maybe you know exactly what I am talking about…

Chick-fil-A may have led the way with this fast food ordering technique but I am not pleased that it is spreading to other chains.

Have you turned into a fast food drive-thru to see an employee standing outside holding a tablet? They are typically staged before the menu board where you would typically order your food. You roll down your window and they greet you with something along the lines of “What can I get you?”

To which I reply, “Um, how about a menu?”

I then get a bewildered look from the employee that implies I should know the entire Taco Bell menu like the back of my hand.

Call me a cranky old man, but I don’t like this new ordering format that is becoming increasingly common. I don’t know if it is supposed to be faster or if it is supposed to convey a better commitment to customer service but it kind of irritates me. When I order food, I like to see my options. I like to take a breath and browse the different offerings on the colorful and illustrated board. When the first thing you encounter is a human with a head set expecting you to know exactly what you want to order it is a little off-putting.

On Sunday we went to Panera. We maybe go there once a year. I know an air conditioner manual better than I know a Panera menu. But there we were stopped 10 feet before the menu board talking to a young woman who wanted to take our order. Having been through enough of these orders at other restaurants, I knew she probably didn’t have a menu on her but I still asked.

“Well, I guess you could drive up there if you really needed to,” she pointed to the menu straight ahead, implying that I was perhaps the worst person ever.

Sidney was already embarrassed by me so we just did pretty much guess and check with her as we decided on what we wanted. In the end, all we wanted was some soup. After narrowing it down to chicken noodle, she asked us if we wanted a large. Sidney answered “yes” but after thinking to myself wait a minute I asked the employee how much that would cost.


I would have spit out that soup if I had some in my mouth at the time. That is another major flaw of this new ordering system. Not only do you not know what is on the menu, you don’t know what items actually cost. For someone like me, who is price-conscious, this is super annoying. I will pay $18.40 for a large pizza—not for a large container of soup.

As you can imagine, Sid was less than pleased with my inability to get with the times. She told me that from now on I just need to go inside and place our order if they have an employee outside intercepting customers. And believe me, I will gladly do that. It will save me frustration, Sid embarrassment, and the employee annoyance.

Am I alone? Again, I don’t want to make a huge deal about this but I do want to know the method behind the madness. I welcome any enlightenment from my readers. Don’t Blink.

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