a Can Can Drive-Thru Fast Food Gain a Foothold in Chinese Lifestyle?

发布时间:2020-03-26 来源: 感恩亲情 点击:

  You drive up to the counter, roll down your car’s window and place an order for a double cheeseburger and fries. Minutes later you’ve paid and collected your very fast food, rolled up your window and driven off--and your feet have not even touched the ground.
  Chinese fast food junkies are familiar with this scene from countless Hollywood movies. But it had to happen in China sooner or later and who else but McDonald’s to take the initiative. In June, the giant burger chain announced a deal with China’s largest gas retailer, the state-owned Sinopec Group, to build drive-through restaurants at filling stations across the country.
  According to the agreement, Sinopec and McDonald’s will choose suitable filling stations and open drive-through restaurants named “Drive-Thru,” providing convenient and fast food service. The project will be first carried out in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou and later in the large and medium-sized cities like Tianjin, Wuhan, Chengdu, Shenzhen and Dongguan. Then the project will be extended to the whole country. As of now, the exact number of Drive-Thru outlets is not yet fixed.
  “Drive-Thru” is the registered brand of McDonald’s drive-through restaurants. The first Drive-Thru outlet was opened in the United States in 1975. Different from other restaurants, Drive-Thru uses take-out windows, where drivers can directly drive into the restaurants and buy food without getting out of their cars. In order to secure the operation speed of this system, the whole purchasing process is divided into three steps at three windows: ordering at the first window, paying at the second window and collecting food at the third window. It’s a painless three-minute process.
  Both among the world’s Top 500 companies, McDonald’s and Sinopec are also partners of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games: therefore Beijing is priority in realizing this project. Sinopec has more than 30,000 filling stations nationwide, 500 of which are located in Beijing. The company will first propose about 100 filling stations for McDonald’s to choose from, covering both urban and rural parts of the city. The first 50 Drive-Thru outlets will be established by the end of next year. Different from McDonald’s restaurants, Drive-Thru outlets will be independent houses, the same as the McDonald’s style of independent restaurants in the United States. However, Drive-Thru outlets in China will adopt Chinese-style architecture, instead of the octagonal houses in America.
  “When we opened the first Drive-Thru in China, we had thought we did it three years ahead, but now we find that actually we did it three years behind,” said Gary Rosen, Vice President and Chief Marketing and Corporate Affairs Officer of McDonald’s China. “The Chinese economy is developing so fast that we must bring this kind of restaurant into China.”
  After McDonald’s first Chinese Drive-Thru outlet was established in Dongguan, Guangdong Province last December, the second and third outlets were opened in Shanghai and Foshan, Guangdong.
  
  Some people think introducing this modern eating out option into China is convenient and will change local lifestyle to some extent. However, other people argue that the “Drive-Thru” concept will make Chinese lazy and life will lose more of its sentimental value.
  
  Drive out
  
  Pan Xiaosong (scholar at the Institute of American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences): Drive-Thru requires a large area and is mainly located near snack bars or coffee shops on the expressways in the United States, while in Chinese cities, the population density is large and if Drive-Thru occupies precious living space, it seems not so worthwhile.
  Moreover, the influence of Drive-Thru is much larger than the outlets themselves. Even if it does not take off locally, the significance of its introduction to China would not be weakened, because behind Drive-Thru is the popular American culture. Introduction of such American-style products to China marks the introduction of the fast American lifestyle. Ordering food while driving and having it ready in three minutes runs counter to traditional Chinese dietary culture.
  Wang Bingjun (retired worker in Beijing): I am not interested in Drive-Thru. This style will make people in the modern society more and more lazy. We should sit in restaurants to enjoy socializing and experiencing life. But fast food makes people lose their feeling for the social aspect of meals and life will become more boring.
  Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post: In the project of opening Drive-Thru outlets in the filling stations operated by Sinopec, three signatures in the Chinese economic development are included: fast food, cars and the national highway network.
  The vaulted logo of McDonald’s along the expressway will be a globally recognized symbol of Chinese modernization. It also spells out that people’s dream of owning a car is being realized. However, China has to fight against pressure brought by its booming economy, the most significant of which is pollution. Life quality has become victim of industrial expansion and pollution brought by the rapidly increasing cars on the road is becoming more and more serious.
  The number of cars on the Chinese mainland has increased from 1.3 million in 1978 to 27 million in 2004. By 2030, it is expected to reach 130 million. This fact has made government officials begin to call for relining of bicycle lanes in cities and make people who ride bicycles return to the road again. Maybe it is not the right answer to turn back the clock, but this reflects the argument of government officials on how to resolve the problem of traffic jam.
  Filling stations are an important service on the mainland’s highways, but the fast developing nationwide network of take-out food may be seen as a luxury, far removed from reality, although it can solve some employment problems.
  There are also worries about the health problems. Development of McDonald’s on the Chinese mainland is out of step with that in other countries. For example, 25 McDonald’s take-out restaurants in Britain had to be closed recently owing to poor performance, because the public is worrying about food with high fat, salt and sugar. Many materials have proved that food with high fat, salt and sugar is easy to cause adiposity and is closely related to diseases like heart trouble and diabetes.
  
  Since fast food is popular on the Chinese mainland, people should pay attention to this problem. Many of the large population cannot afford medical fees, so we should guard against expansion of diseases typical of modern Western civilization.
  Luo Weizheng (Deputy Manager of the Marketing Department of BP-PetroChina Petroleum Co. Ltd.): I believe the “filling station and fast food restaurant” combination, which is popular in the United States, is impractical in China. At present, most of the filling stations in urban areas cannot meet the requirements of this model.
  Enough space is needed for fast food restaurants to be added to existing filling stations. In the United States, such fast food restaurants are divided into two types: with or without parking areas. Even though McDonald’s establishes restaurants where drivers do not need to get out of their cars, transformation of existing filling stations is quite a huge job--although entrances remain the same, exits must be split into refueling and buying food. The internal circular routes of cars must also be well considered.
  The experience of foreign countries shows that to set up a drive-through restaurant around a filling station, you need the same area as occupied by the filling station. Besides selling windows, McDonald’s also needs processing space for their products like hamburgers, French-fries and apple pies just before being sold. Most of the existing filling stations have no such space.
  Fast food is needed only in a fast-paced society, but Chinese cities seem to have yet to meet this level of requirement.
  
  ‘Drive-Thru’ should be welcomed
  
  Yuan Yue (President of Horizon Research Consultancy Group): In China, the costs of independent McDonald’s restaurants are quite high, but utilizing facilities of filling stations can effectively reduce the costs of opening restaurants and speed up business expansion.
  Many business people are rushing about in cities, meeting after meeting. My driver often prepares some bread in my car. If I could buy hot hamburgers when refueling, I would be happy. Drive-Thru also has realistic meaning to China. Since there are not enough parking lots in many large cities of China, buying food without having to park can resolve this problem.
  Jiang Ruxiang (President of Beijing Zion Consulting): The alliance between McDonald’s and Sinopec is a big step in commercial real estate development, similar to the entrance of a supermarket into communities.
  I am optimistic about the future of Drive-Thru in Dongguan and Shunde of Guangdong, because in that area, there are a large number of floating business people from other areas, who battle to find good service. Drive-Thru will certainly succeed in such areas, but it would be some difficult to survive in large cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
  Li Yu (student at the English Depart-ment of Beijing Normal University): I am so happy that we can buy food without getting out of the car, just like what we have seen in films. This is especially convenient in today’s fast-paced life. Moreover, this makes me feel quite cool.
  
  Taking to this fast food culture will change the life of Chinese. I think that is not a bad thing. Maybe some people like to eat in a good atmosphere and enjoy the food, which is part of traditional Chinese eating culture. But we are in different time now and today’s life is far less leisurely than before. People are all busy and many people cannot enjoy a leisurely meal when they want to. So we need new ways of eating that provides convenience and saves time.
  Zhuang Yiding (Beijing Lansheng Advertisement Co.): It is unnecessary to worry that drive-through restaurants will challenge the lifestyle of the Chinese and make them lazier. I think it is the situation people are in that decides what kind of lifestyle they need. Today, fast-paced life dictates that people need fast and convenient ways of eating. So I believe drive-through fast food will be popular. At least my friends all want to try it.
  Life in the modern society is colorful, so people need various eating cultures. When young people opt for take-out, it doesn’t mean they reject traditional ways of eating. We should accept cultures from all over the world with a tolerant attitude.

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