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Why You Should Build a Walk-Up Window for Your Restaurant


The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically altered the way people eat out as well as the way restaurants serve their customers. Even with the recent announcement of more California businesses allowed to open indoor services, restaurants in most counties were glaringly absent from the list. But by what we’ve seen in the past few months, the foodservice industry is resilient with creative ways to stay open. Other than take-out service and outdoor dining, there is a renewed interest in installing walk-up windows to provide a safer and more convenient environment for staff and customers.


The walk-up window isn’t new to the foodservice industry. They were popularized in Southern California in the 1950’s and were even more prominent than drive-thru windows at the time. Now, especially during this period of the pandemic, walk-up windows are making a strong comeback.


For many quick service outlets, the walk-up window is simply an extension of their popular drive-thru service. Customers who are already accustomed to the efficiency and convenience of the drive-thru, would be able to enjoy the same benefits on foot as well.


Seeing this growing trend, full service restaurants have also added walk-up windows to their businesses. Since many have already streamlined their menus, this added benefit would help increase safety and efficiency. Customers would not need to enter a restaurant to order or pick up their food, reducing points of contact.


However, before installing a walk-up window, there are several things to consider. Keep in mind to place the window at an appropriate height so staff and guests wouldn’t need to stoop or stretch when interacting. Investing in self-closing windows with sensors can help to prevent accidents and to improve customer experience. You don’t want your staff struggling to hold the window open while trying to pass the food to the customer.


Also, be aware of the surroundings. If your business is located on a narrow sidewalk with heavy pedestrian traffic, using a walk-up window would be challenging. Finally, there may be health and planning code requirements to consider. For example, California requires windows with less than 432 square inches of pass-thru area. Also, city planning departments are very particular about storefront appearances so walk-up windows may not be allowed on some buildings. However if there is a growing demand and interest, public opinion may be able to sway even the most restrictive city planning departments. If you’re thinking about installing a walk-up window in your establishment, Restaurant Design Concepts can help! Call us for a free onsite consultation today.