A drive-through restaurant, also known as a drive-through, is a type of restaurant in which people can order and pick up their food without ever leaving the comfort of their cars. A drive-through usually consists of a building with a driveway wrapped around it. Drivers approach either a first window or a microphone box and place an order; then they drive around to the other side of the building, where the order is delivered through a small window and the customer can pay for it. Very busy drive-through restaurants may have two separate windows for paying and picking up the order, but most establishments do both things at once in order to speed up the process.
As the driver approaches the drive-through, there is usually a large sign listing the items available for sale. A drive-through menu is usually fixed and rarely offers specials. Given the system used by drive-through restaurants, it would be fairly difficult to change the menu often.
The first drive-through business opened was not a restaurant, but a bank. Merchant's Bank opened in Syracuse, New York, in 1941. The first drive-through restaurant did not arrive until 1947, when Red's Giant Hamburg opened in Springfield, Missouri. Drive-through restaurants became popular in the 50s, and were quickly imitated around the world. Over the past two decades, drive-through restaurants have become a staple in highways, driving stops, and small tourist towns, where speed and convenience are a must.
Drive-through restaurants are also popular with fast food chains such as McDonald's, Wendy's, and Burger King. In fact, a McDonald's drive-through in Australia holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest service in the world. The MacDonald's Wynnum-West drive-through can serve up to 41 cars in 15 minutes. Walking through a drive-through is not allowed, and most restaurants will refuse service to pedestrians approaching the windows. Some places will also refuse to serve cyclists because of insurance liability. Other drive-through places offer a special window at night so pedestrians can order food when the sit-down part of the building is closed.