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Burgerville CEO sees more bikes in their future

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 19th, 2010 at 9:58 am

Not just for cars anymore.
(Photo: Elly Blue/BikePortland)

Back in August, local fast food chain Burgerville made headlines when they opened their drive-thrus to bicycle-riding customers at all 39 of their locations.

But, according to an interview with the company's CEO Jeff Harvey published in The Oregonian last week, that's just the start.

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Read below for Mr. Harvey's response to a question about the bike-thrus (emphasis mine):

The O: A bicyclist was turned away last year at a drive-through at a Portland restaurant. Burgerville responded by opening the drive-throughs at all of its 39 restaurants to bicycles. Is that feature getting used very much?

Mr. Harvey: It is getting used, more so than it was before we made the shift. I still don't think it's, you know, it's not a substantial percentage of our guests showing up on bicycles, but that wasn't the intent anyway. The intent with Burgerville always is that everybody is at the table. So whenever we run in to a situation of someone's excluded we want to make the effort to make sure that they're there.

We're not done. Allowing bikes at the drive-through is not the end game for Burgerville. I would expect this year you're going to see us engaging more with bicycling organizations. If nothing else I want to make sure that when bikes go through the drive-through it's a great experience for them and easy for them.

Good to see that the CEO is aware of more people using the bike-thru service.

It will be interesting to see what else Burgerville does in the coming year. 2009 was the year Hopworks Brewery established themselves as the go-to beer in the local bike scene -- will Burgerville become the fast food burger joint equivalent?

Have any of you biked-thru? If so, what was your experience?

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Comments
  • Jackattak January 19, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Yep! Biked thru that very Burgerville where the photo was taken (SE 11th & Hawthorne) just this past summer with my wife to get milkshakes.

    They were very friendly (as usual) and we got smiles and laughs at the fact we were on our cruisers in the drive-thru!

    This doesn't surprise me much at all. Burgerville is a Pacific Northwest institution that has always (in my opinion) embraced the Pacific Northwest culture.

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  • eli bishop January 19, 2010 at 10:18 am

    i feel self-conscious when i use the bike-thru because i can't order at the call box: i have to bike to a window & wait (and wait) for someone to notice me, and then wait for them to figure out what to do with me, so they wait for an answer from someone else on duty. eventually i get to order and get the order, but that means i'm making everyone behind me wait, and i feel like a bad bike ambassador.

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  • Jackattak January 19, 2010 at 10:24 am

    @ eli -

    Why do you feel like you can't use the callbox? We just rode right up to the one in Hawthorne and they took our order as if we were in a car.

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  • eli bishop January 19, 2010 at 10:33 am

    there's a sign at the one on powell/205 that says to pull up to the window. :) i did try sitting at the callbox once but nobody answered.

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  • Jackattak January 19, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Ah! Weird! I guess it makes sense that the SE Hawthorne BV is more bike-centric. :)

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  • Vance Longwell January 19, 2010 at 10:49 am

    How long had they prohibited bicycles, and pedestrians alike - let us not forget, prior to lifting the ban? If everybody is so welcome, how does Burgerville explain the ban in the first place?

    I have been led to believe the bans, and it's not just Burgerville this was an industry-wide ban, were a reaction to a series of drive-thru robberies committed by perpetrators who would simply walk-up to these drive-thrus; and at that it was a small-set of isolated incidents in Southern California more than a decade ago.

    Quit lying. This 'liability' defense is so thin I can see through it. This isn't about Burgerville either, it's the boots on the ground. From management through, most especially, the face at the window, these decisions were primarily left to staff to sort-out and make policy. The class dynamics are simple. Poor people enforcing status-symbolism amongst one and other.

    Fact of the matter is, Burgerville just couldn't be bothered for oh, a decade or so, to police their own on this. Instead, they accepted the break on insurance, which was all predicated upon the logical fallacy that people whom are not in cars are somehow a greater liability exposure; and this due to the off-chance a stick-up would occur. Ask an early supporter of this policy, "Well, can't people in cars hold-you-up just as easily?". Response: "Well, yeah, but it doesn't ever happen. We only see this as a problem with people not in cars".

    Class based disdain for people not in cars works in conjunction with the human predisposition to get out of doing work. "It's a DRIVE-thru [insert expletive], not a BIKE-thur!". Seriously, personal experience on numerous occasions. Every trick in the book, every foot that could be dragged, hell bent on getting as many bodies out of that hard-to-service drive-thru, and into a window-line inside where you are a captive audience for their damn marketing, and an impulse expenditure in the waiting.

    The only reason we are seeing a change in this policy is 'cause a beef got made, pardon the pun. And an opportunistic businessman rightly responded in the only logical way possible. So, I really don't see why you are giving this air-time. You can't ever convince me that the conditions which begot this ridiculous policy in the first place have changed in any significant way.

    Face it Burgerville, you didn't let bikes and peds through your drive-thrus because we are an insignificant part of your bottom-line. Your pseudo-response to this was to let your store-employees kick us around for the last ten years. Now, an opportunity arises to launch a marketing gala, and here's the VOICE OF THE PORTLAND BICYCLIST giving them air-time.

    Sheesh Maus, with friends like this...

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  • wsbob January 19, 2010 at 11:18 am

    I think the reason, up until just recently, that Burgerville's drive-in window didn't cater to the bike crowd, is that the market just wasn't much there.

    Oh, an occasional person on a bike perhaps, but probably far and few between. In that context, those that were robbers would likely have made strong impression on management that may influenced it to implement a 'motor vehicle service only' policy.

    Fast food has had a well deserved rep for being lousy for one's health. Healthy, active people widely regarded fast food restaurant food as poison. Many probably still do.

    In that respect though, word seems to be that Burgerville is on the forefront of of a cultural fast food trend that's interested in better healthier food. Healthy, active people are more and more interested in being able to get this kind of food at a fast food restaurant. So, where in past, in this type of offering, there wasn't a market for a place such as Burgerville, today, there is.

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  • are January 19, 2010 at 11:20 am

    i agree burgerville should get only faint praise for abandoning a wrongful practice under pressure. going forward, if they want to embrace more bikey stuff, it's okay with me, and glad to see the oregonian reporting it. in fairness to jonathan, this piece merely reports those two facts. i would like to see a city ordinance requiring anyone who operates a drive-up window to permit walk-ups and bike-ups. as far as hopworks is concerned, i would hope they become proactive in doing something about the complete bike and pedestrian unfriendliness of the stretch of powell they are situated on.

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  • John Lascurettes January 19, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Well, BK still has their hate on for bikes in the drive through. This is from the NE Broadway location near 39th: http://twitpic.com/ytq4z

    Kudos to BV.

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  • Justin January 19, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Vance, are you always that angry?

    The most common reason given for not allowing bikes in drive-thrus involve insurance liability issues.

    "Face it Burgerville, you didn't let bikes and peds through your drive-thrus because we are an insignificant part of your bottom-line. "

    So when they were banning bikes, those were an insignificant part of their bottom line. But now that they aren't banning bikes...

    "The only reason we are seeing a change in this policy is 'cause a beef got made, pardon the pun. And an opportunistic businessman rightly responded in the only logical way possible."

    That doesn't make any sense. Calm down and try to appreciate it when companies do nice things to cyclists. It's sad that a win here, on such a minor issue, launches you into an angry, bitter, contradictory tirade.

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  • wsbob January 19, 2010 at 11:53 am

    From the pic of the BK sign john Lascurettes posted a link to, above:

    "...This includes guests on coasting devices and non-motorized vehicles that have been altered"

    man, dig that crazy phrase... . What all types of 'devices' and non-motorized vehicles might the BK management be thinking of? Most likely, skateboards, for one, but the '...non-motorized vehicles that have been altered.' part... . What's that refer to? Those welded up freak bike contraptions including tall bikes?

    Interestingly, the signs' language actually doesn't seem to rule out service to bikes, as long as they haven't been 'altered'. Thanks BK!

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  • Stochelo January 19, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Stop it--making me want far too much to knock off work, ride a few K to the nearest one for a Perk Shake.

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  • q`Ztal January 19, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    #7 drive thru signal
    Odds are theses loop detectors are cheap and installed in such a way as to make it difficult if not impossible to retune them when needed.

    Next time a cyclist robs a drive thru window make sure to give him a big bag of burgers. I'd like to see him make his expeditious escape with two 1/4 pound gut bomb burgers in his stomach.

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  • h January 19, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    they are not deaf-friendly so i rarely go get food there. i am bored with hamburgers anyway.

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  • rev January 19, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    We were outside the bike polo party late on sat night (which was excellent, thanks to everyone who made it possible!). It was a surreal experience watching a friend trying to flag down a cab so that he could order food from taco bell.

    Burgerville I am very grateful you are being a trailblazer. The current scenario where all the late night restaurants are drive thu only is simply classist and lame.

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  • spare_wheel January 19, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    At the Hawthorne store they've stopped taking bike orders at the call box and have installed a sign instructing bikers to ride up to the window. Lately I've started cutting ahead of the second to last car to place my order. I know this is a bit rude but its quite unfair to make bikers wait until the entire line of vehicles has been served to place their order. They desperately need a buzzer or some other method of allowing bikers to use the call box.

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  • Vance Longwell January 19, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Justin #16 -

    "The most common reason given for not allowing bikes in drive-thrus involve insurance liability issues."

    That from your post, this from mine:

    "This 'liability' defense is so thin I can see through it."

    I know this is a liability issue, look, I can even prove that by pointing out I just said it. You go on to say that a perfectly sensible paragraph doesn't make any sense. You can't just 'say' that, prove it. Where's your evidence? This sentence makes perfect sense. It's quite readable in fact. Did you perhaps mean that you just disagree with me?

    What is your position here? Lets see the first sentence is just a personal insult, nope no position there. Your second sentence just repeats something I already said, and proved I already said. Nope, no position there. Your third sentence is a quote from me, nope no position there. The next sentence you again provably repeat something I just said, no position there. Next sentence is a sentence fragment and makes no declaration, has no subject, just a sentence-fragment. Nope, no position there. Next two sentences, more Vance quotes, no position there. And finally you close with a paragraph extolling the virtues of a company who lifted a who-knows-how-long ban on bicycles, for a year, and now they're to be lauded? If you say so. At least it's a position. Next sentence is just another series of personal insults.

    So it is your position then that Burgerville is good because they've made a minimal attempt to accommodate a small part of their market, and for political purposes at that; if not, then that again raises the question why the ban in the first place? I disagree with this position. I think Burgerville should suffer the consequences for their lack of attentiveness to this problem in the first place.

    I hate restating this over and over again for the reason that I have to. This blog openly declares that they speak for all bicyclists. I am a bicyclist and I disagree that Burgerville is good. Just stating that I'm angry is a personal insult. In order to draw such conclusions you must first have a historical perspective from which to draw such a conclusion, and you don't. You don't even know me, and making a personal judgment of this sort requires that you do.

    cold worker - you know, much to my chagrin, I have given Maus my personal word to not participate in s**t that might damage his business. Since I can't understand his position in this I've offered up a compromise where I agreed to post less. A lot less. It is my belief that even my most hated enemies here will back me 100% when I say that I post bi-monthly at best; and at that just these little flurries.

    So, get off my tip.

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  • buglas January 19, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    With a tiny bit of thought, the liability position makes no sense. Am I at greater risk of injury in a nice defined line of drive through traffic, or traveling in some random direction across your parking lot among cars that are doing the same?

    Slightly off topic, as it's not Burgerville, but we have a new Rite-Aid store in Corvallis, now featuring a drive through. After some initial uncertainty, they welcome bikes. Has anybody probed any other Rite Aid drive through? Is this corporate policy or sensible local management?

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  • OnTheRoad January 19, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    #13: ...as far as hopworks is concerned, i would hope they become proactive in doing something about the complete bike and pedestrian unfriendliness of the stretch of powell they are situated on.

    Yes. And there is not even a side-street way to get there.

    At least they finally installed a bunch of racks - though putting them right next to busy Powell was not the most bike-welcoming location.

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  • are January 19, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    the liability argument, at least as it has been presented to me by some bank teller, was always bogus. the idea is that a motorist might come around the corner and whack you before he sees you. obviously this could happen to a motorist as well, but more to the point, it means the drive thru is badly designed. still their fault.

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  • peejay January 19, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Whew! At the risk of offending a certain sensitive someone, it bears repeating that there is a certain industry that practices an unfair, illogical, fear-and-annecdote driven policy that discriminates against the carless population. One company in that industry has changed its policy, and I think it's perfectly fair to write a story on that. The story doesn't propose giving the company an Alice B Toeclips award, but merely acknowledging the change in light of the rest of the industry continuing the stupid policy. In the same way -- although many orders of magnitude more significant -- it was a story that the Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson in 1947.

    Vance, really, you should have the same sensitivity about what you say to or about others that you have for comments directed at you. You could learn a lot.

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  • peejay January 19, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    As for Hopworks, I fully agree that, no matter how bike friendly their policies may be, the setting is terrible for bikes.

    Powell Blvd is one of the most unpleasant parts of close-in Portland that I can think of. But it won't change until ODOT realigns its priorities. I don't know why Hopworks couldn't have found a better location.

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  • Vance Longwell January 19, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    peejay #33 -

    "Vance, really, you should have the same sensitivity about what you say to or about others that you have for comments directed at you. You could learn a lot."

    Should I peejay? Don't get me wrong, you are absolutely right. But I don't agree that it is the same thing. I'm usually rude for obvious reasons. At that, it's usually in response to unreasonable personal attacks. Everybody's got to chime-in, which would be totally awesome, but it's usually only to insult me, presumably because of whatever position I've taken at the moment.

    Sensitivity? This policy has inconvenienced me for years. Not only that, but 'me' as a cyclist. Somebody, a woman Elly, I'd like to point out, raised a very high-profile stink about it and the policy was changed. Well, if it, and this is the critical component of my logic here: If they can change the policy now, so as not to negatively impact their business, then what has changed to afford them this option? Nothing? Just the policy? Then why the policy in the first place? The answer to that question lies in class-dynamics, and corporate disconnection from their franchises and company stores. IN MY OPINION.

    A sensitive bicycle journalist would weigh the historical-detractors against the contemporaneous new benefit, and find the overture lacking credibility. IN MY OPINION. Why then, am I still obligated to practice any sensitivity, let alone on the scale necessary to simply allow BikePortland.org a fishing expedition for advertising dollars? With my name on their lips, no less!

    IN MY OPINION.

    Anyway. Thanks for being kool. We've had it out a couple of times and I think you have to expend a lot of energy being civil with me; and I appreciate that very much.

    I don't change policy. I don't speak for anybody. I don't curse, I just say what's on my mind. I can see some of the things I say being threatening, or maybe even offensive to some; but that's just because of not thinking it through, IMO. If you thought it through you'd realize how utterly impotent in this I am, and that I don't have a snow-ball's chance in hell of effecting policy. To me, this should take some of the sting out of my words.

    It's not just me either. I'm part of an odd demographic. I'm very little different from the ordinary bum spanging you in town. For that matter, it would be that I don't spange that probably is the only real distinction. Hehe. When do we ever hear from people like that on anything? We don't. 'This' has no precedent. Before it was print your own, and cross your fingers. The net gives everybody an instant-voice because you can participate for free-ish.

    I reflect the attitudes of my peers. My mode of speech is common to me, and my friends. What seems so incredibly out-of-place here, simply doesn't in my world. In fact, as far as bums go, I'm cream of the crop! So, to me, the people here are overly sensitive, self-absorbed, and completely blind to the rampant classism. Little wonder then that I should seem an extraterrestrial being supporting wild-ass positions.

    My fault?

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  • AaronF January 19, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    spare wheel

    I fail to see how you can rationalize cutting in line. It would be unfair if they pulled you out of line after you ordered and had you wait off to the side until they had made your food. Then you'd have a case for cutting. But they don't. They make your food next, right after you order, right?

    You are straight up, 100% cutting. I can see how it might feel a little rude!

    See, everyone after you will have to wait a little extra because you place your order at the window and they can't get started ahead of time. So not only are you cutting, but then the line moves slower for people behind you. That might as well just happen to people who come after you, rather than people who come before you!

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  • spare_wheel January 19, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    "they pulled you out of line after you ordered and had you wait off to the side until they had made your food."

    This is exactly what they do...and the main rationalization for my rudeness.

    "They make your food next, right after you order, right?"

    This is not accurate. Often, by the time I receive my order, multiple cars have received their food. In fact before I started cutting, I would often sit fuming while an entire line of vehicles that arrived well after me receive their orders. I have been patronizing BV to support their bike-friendly policy and environmental activism. Unless they fix their bike ordering problem I'll likely return to my former fast-food free lifestyle.

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  • spare_wheel January 19, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    closing stray tag.

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  • Kathleen McDade January 19, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    I still haven't ridden through, because I don't want to mess with the riding up to the window to order thing. If I were going through at a time when there were no cars, maybe.

    Actually, my problem is that the Burgerville at SE 122nd and Stark has no bike rack or other appropriate place to lock a bike. I have to take it inside with me.

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  • Marsh January 19, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    in response to post #27 (kathleen)

    I live pretty close to there, the single staple rack is on the north side of the building :)

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  • buglas January 20, 2010 at 9:21 am

    @spare_wheel - do you carry a cell phone? A heads up that you're out there but can't trigger the intercom would resolve any issues about your proper place in line.

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  • Jill January 20, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    We love to bike-thru at the Glisan and 82nd BV. No problem ordering at the call box. Shakes fit in the water bottle cage!

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  • AaronF January 20, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Spare Wheel

    Wow, that's a drag. Makes locking the bike up and going inside sound preferable by contrast, unless there's nobody in line at all.

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  • Kathleen McDade January 20, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Marsh-28 On the north side? Like, where people exit the drive-thru? Seriously odd/unsafe place, if so. Thanks. :-)

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  • jim January 23, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    If they really wanted to make some money they would open a walk-up window. I've seen these do trmendous business. That would be safe for cyclists and would be cool for people who like to hang out, eat in their cars.... It could stay open late without having to work the facility inside. Somebody will do it eventually and clean up, it won't happen real fast though as it takes a while for someone to catch on.

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