What if Kingston…

snow shovel, snow stormIn the early 90’s, McDonald’s did their worst to tempt consumers with everything from pizzas to McRibs, supersized menu items as well as a brief experiment with home delivery. I can’t say that I was ever hungry or lazy enough to wait 30 minutes to enjoy the gluttonous luxury of a delivered Big Mac, but I admit that the idea of having a shamrock shake brought directly to my doorstep is mildly appealing. To this day, I still can’t understand why Micky Dee’s and the other major fast food burger chains haven’t rolled out widespread delivery services. I suppose it all comes down to profit margins, or rather a lack thereof.  With the Limestone City emerging as a popular test market for fast food franchises including Tim Horton’s, the golden arches and others, what if Kingston got reaquainted with fast food delivery?

Don’t get me wrong, I do not have a huge appetite for waiting and paying extra for a meal that would likely arrive lukewarm and soggy.  But in this day and age, it seems as though we’re increasingly running in too many directions and embracing novel ways of shaving a few minutes off of time consuming tasks.  And for some, cooking healthy meals with locally sourced ingredients and sitting down to eat dinner as a family is one of those tasks that regularly falls off the plate.  Thankfully the entire fast food industry is built on convenience, as evidenced by features including speedy service, drive thrus, and the number of franchise locations in any given city.  Case in point regarding the latter: Division Street at Highway 401.

Back to fast food delivery, which is making a come back and in certain areas of the world it’s big business.  Although the Clown, the King, the Colonel and friends do not offer delivery in Canada, many franchises still provide this service in larger cities such as NYC, and parts of Europe, Asia and South America.  Further, Burger King started testing their very own delivery service in key markets throughout the United States.  While the experiment offered a limited menu, required hungry callers to spend a minimum of $8-$10, and restrained delivery to addresses within 10 minutes of store locations, the reviews thus far have been positive thanks in part to BK’s new delivery packaging technology and the use of thermal bags.

In an electronic age of instant everything — when millions of consumers expect to get what they want at the click of a button — the logic may seem sound. But what about those soggy fries and limp burgers that folks fear go hand-in-hand with home delivery?  Burger King has developed a “proprietary thermal packaging technology,” says Jonathan Fitzpatrick, chief brand and operations officer for Burger King, “which ensures the Whopper is delivered hot and fresh, and the french fries are delivered hot and crispy.”

The grill-to-door Whopper or Big Mac is not coming to Kingston any time soon, and here’s why: if burger delivery was viable, McDonald’s would have likely figured it out by now.  But that’s not to say that the King’s experiment south of the border could be a sign of things to come to Kingston’s test market.  At the very least, local delivery options recently expanded with the addition of Boston Pizza’s very own delivery service, and St-Hubert will soon be shipping rotisserie chicken directly to your door.

Like drive thrus and fatty fast foods, if you’re not a fan of fast food delivery, the best thing you can do is refuse to support it. Do you think it will be a long and lonely wait until the likes of Tim Horton’s starts delivering double-doubles, or would you embrace more restaurants who offer delivery as a convenient alternate to eating in, taking out, and drive thrus?  Please hold the cheese, and drop off a few comments below.

Thanks to amee@work for today’s photo.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

3 thoughts on “What if Kingston…

  • I find it hilarious that the "proprietary thermal packaging technology" sounds like nothing so much as the polystyrene nightmare that was the McDLT – "keeps the hot side hot and the cold side cool."

  • Great article. I wrote on the same topic @ http://capitalaccumulation.blogspot.com/2012/01/b… on the 18th of January.

    The primary concern for the future viability of any delivery operation is an increase in fuel and associated transportation costs. With the continued increase in gasoline prices, the profitability of a fast-food delivery operation is surely in jeopardy. McDonald's and others have attempted this before, but it is difficult for them, and consumers, to justify the increased costs when the total purchase price is generally so low.

    Burger King attempts to correct this issue by levying a $2 surcharge on delivery orders, but this is often both too little to justify the associated costs, and, at the same time, too much extra for consumers to pay considering they are often buying fast-food because they are price concious in the first place.

    In North America, there is already an installed capacity of quick and easy to use drive through locations, which provides many consumers with the access to fast food that they need if they do not desire to eat the food at the restaurant. To be sure, many North American consumers utilize drive-through locations precisely because they intend on eating the food at home in the first place.

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