The COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t seem to be fading with the expeditious grace government officials predicted. That means many of us will spend the remainder of spring and summer 2020 inside or exploring the United States from vehicles. Some travel and tourism-related businesses will succumb to COVID-19’s lingering presence, but early adapters are finding ways to engage customers while keeping all parties safe. The good ol’ American drive-thru is having a moment, and it’s not just Popeyes having a resurgence. Here are seven drive-thru experiences already being tested out or modified for travelers.
Animals gotta eat. And when they’re being held captive, somebody’s gotta feed ’em. Wildlife parks and zoos have been some of the earliest adapters to COVID-19’s economic stranglehold. San Antonio, Phoenix, and Richmond zoos are already testing drive-through zoo experiences. Visitors are not allowed to leave their vehicles during the relatively tame excursion but can let their windows down to snap pictures and speak with zoologists and staff. We imagine this will continue to be wildly popular with parents going into summer. In San Antonio, the zoo experience has sold-out every day that it’s been available.
Artists that want to tour during a pandemic might want to take notes from Seattle rapper Raz Simone. Over the weekend, he held a guerrilla drive-in concert where somehow, everyone managed to stay – more or less – inside their rides for the entire show. And the genius thing about Raz’s experience was that he didn’t have to worry about any noise ordinance because his team handed out wireless headphones to every car that attended the show.
Before the coronavirus ushered in the age of panic, pop culture zeitgeist was warmly rooted in nostalgia for the 70s and 80s. Netflix and Universal racked in a lot of money leaning heavy into the past with the vibes of Strangers Things and IT. Do you know who else is going to make a lot of money over the next few years tapping into nostalgia? Drive-in movie operators. Watching a movie on the big screen is an experience millions will be clamoring to have by mid-summer, but none of those folks will be sprinting into a dark, dank theater to grimace at the sound of coughs during Fast & Furious 476. We predict drive-in movie theaters will have blockbuster success this travel season.
Beers & Cocktails
Breweries in Portland, Milwaukee, Charlotte, and Los Angeles are taking advantage of some relaxed laws and selling growlers and six-packs to-go through drive-thru windows. Maine, Missouri, Kansas, and California are allowing bars and individuals to sell cocktails in to-go containers to drive-thru customers.
Not an ideal destination on a family vacation, but as noted in our previous article, drive-thru strip clubs are now a thing.
The definitive upside of a drive-through farmer’s market is not having to stand behind Karens asking questions about purple kale. The downside, however, is that we have to sit behind Karens shouting those same questions from their car windows. Regardless, thee drive-thru farmer’s market concept is popping up all over the United States, from major cities like Las Vegas to smaller towns like Scranton.
More Fast Food Options
Expect fast food chains once averse to the drive-thru concept to find footing in an already competitive marketplace. Chipotle just opened its first-ever drive-thru, and Manhattan’s beloved Shake Shack is doing the same. In metropolitan cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, entrepreneurial chefs have started offering fully prepped multi-course dinners for sale from curbside foldout tables. Having plenty of options for those road trips – or even just a simple drive to the nearest park – will help make things feel just a little bit more normal.
Eric has revolved in and out of passport controls for over 20 years. From his first archaeological field school in Belize to rural villages in Ethiopia and Buddhist temples in Laos, Eric has come smile to smile with all walks of life. A writer, photographer and entrepreneur, the LA native believes the power of connectivity and community is enriched through travel.