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Window Shopping

A whole new way of looking at drive-thru

Perhaps the busiest time of day for a fast-food establishment is lunch. Customer after hungry customer rolls up to a drive-thru window expecting a complete meal within minutes.

Ordinarily, when pur-chasing a Subway sandwich, a customer walks in, places an order and watches as it's prepared. Figuring a traditional drive-thru would only create confusion, Subway franchisee Michael Murphy, 43, invented a window that lets customers view the sandwich-making process right from the comfort of their cars.

"It's an improvement over the old-fashioned drive-thru window so many stores have," says Murphy, who opened his first franchise in Granite Falls, Minnesota, in 1993. "With my invention, customers drive their cars up to a large picture window and look through it at the food and the preparation table. They can see the menu and talk to the employees."

After experimentation, Murphy found the right angle and height to make viewing the process easy.

The idea came to Murphy in 1994 on a road trip with his wife. After going through a drive-thru and discussing the need for one in their store, he drew a sketch on a notepad and presented it to a patent attorney and his Subway development agent. Five years later, he received the patent for his invention. His second store with the new drive-thru window was completed in Montevideo, Minnesota, in 1997. The window, claims Murphy, has brought in almost one-half of his customers. Subway Corp. is evaluating the window's potential and discussing whether it'll be used at other locations.

Contact Source

Subway Corp.,(203) 876-6674, ext.1683, german_c@subway.com.

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This article was originally published in the February 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Window Shopping.

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