Drive-ins driven out of the City

Out of fashion

no longer popular A waiter serves food to customers at a parking lot. DH Photo

Konark Hotel on Residency Road was one of the pioneers in providing the drive-in facility to its customers as early as in 1985.

Drive-in is a system where customers are served while they are parked with the staff walking out to take orders and returning with food. One of the essentials for such a service is the space to hold vehicles.

But with the number of vehicles increasing in the City at a never-before fast pace, drive-in is on its way out.

A system like this is believed to attract a large number of customers who can avoid waiting for a table inside the restaurant as they can eat in their vehicle itself.

High rents

Things, however, have changed. With high rents, it is very difficult for hotels to offer such a scheme. Besides, misuse of the facility by the customers is making matters worse, pushing hotel owners to discontinue the service.

Girish Kumar, Manager of Konark Hotel, says the facility has been stopped in the lunch hours as some customers were misusing it. Many of them would use the free parking space while indulging in long conversations with friends and colleagues over a cup of coffee. This did not allow the inflow of new customers, Kumar said.

Another problem relates to comfort of the service itself. While this option comes across as luxurious, a car is in no way an ideal place to have a pleasant meal.

“We provide the drive-in facility only if the customer requests it. Usually, customers prefer to sit comfortably in the air-conditioned restaurant and have a meal,” Ashok, Senior Manager of Ballal Residency, another hotel on Residency Road, says. This does not make it a feasible option for hotel owners.

Maintenance problems

Traditionally, meal was served on a wooden slab, that acted as a table, fixed to the car. Still, only those sitting near the window or in the front seat could eat peacefully.

Maintaining cleanliness inside the car was another difficulty faced by the restaurant staff, resulting in the concept fading away.  Nonetheless, a few fast food chains and roadside eating joints have clung to the concept where one can pick up a parcel of their food and drive home.

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