East Lansing, MI / As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, local businesses and restaurants across the country are struggling to adapt their business models to “the new normal.” Part of that adjustment includes catering to consumers who no longer feel safe inside their stores. For many, drive-thrus may feel like the perfect solution. But in some cities, it’s an illegal one.
In August of 2019, Minneapolis became the latest city to pass an ordinance banning the construction of new drive-through windows in hopes of lowering vehicle noise and idling which lowers pollution and increases safety for citizens on the nearby sidewalks. Similar legislation restricting or banning the creation of new drive-thru windows for banks, restaurants, and/or retail businesses was also passed in Creve Coeur, Mo.; Long Beach, Calif.; and Fair Haven, N.J.
Scott Chapelle Strathmore Development Working to Help Local Businesses Pivot
Scott Chappelle Michigan businessman and President of the Strathmore Real Estate Group is leading an initiative meant to help a significant number of retail businesses and quick-serve restaurants (QSR’s) to address the problems of social distancing, health and safety regulations, and increased delivery and pick-up demand. The company makes each recommendation based on the client’s needs and existing assets, but generally, a business has two choices – either enhance capacity at the existing location or pivot to a new location that has drive-through capability.
“Most bans focus on curbing emissions, improving pedestrian safety and enhancing walkability, but ignore the realities of consumer tastes and the marketplace,” says Scott Chappelle Strathmore Development President. “Especially right now, when drive-thrus are about more than convenience. Now it’s an issue of health and safety.”
Minneapolis City Council President, Lisa Bender, says the ordinance that banned new drive-thrus is part of a larger growth and development plan that includes an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Back when the ordinance first passed, pre-pandemic, Scott Chappelle Michigan developer noted that while “The legislation is sometimes promoted as an opportunity to create healthier food environments and curb obesity” he found it to be oppressive for local business owners.
Ban Found To Be Counterproductive Says Scott Chappelle Strathmore Development
When asked for comment, Roland Sturm, a senior economist at nonprofit research firm Rand Corp. called the idea of banning drive-thrus “ridiculous.” According to Sturm, those who backed the ban tend to tout potential health benefits. It may seem simple – less idling equals fewer fumes – but no research has been done on whether drive-thrus add significantly to carbon emissions and pollution more than other modes of dining and shopping.
People who may otherwise have picked up food and gone home may travel further for food or decide to make a night of it and travel to another location, canceling out the small gains of reducing drive-thru traffic. Or they simply order delivery, which just replaces one car with another (while also taking money out of local restaurants’ pockets) points out.
In fact, the practice could actually be counterproductive to health and safety. Aside from the obvious COVID-era worries about going inside a store or restaurant, obesity rates actually went up in South Los Angeles after new stand-alone fast-food restaurants and drive-through windows were banned, according to Social Science & Medicine. Sturm was the lead author of the study and notes that obesity continued to climb for three years after the ban.
Scott Chappelle Strathmore Development Continues to Respond to COVID-19 Distress
Strathmore Real Estate Group continues to pursue the development and construction of over 46 properties with enhanced drive-thru capability in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Strathmore is simply responding to changing consumer tastes precipitated by the global pandemic,” says Scott Chappelle Michigan resident and businessman. The bans often don’t include existing drive-thru windows, so Strathmore aims to offer those pre-existing properties to businesses who are suffering without a way to serve their clients.