As little girls, my daughters didn’t think it made sense to walk through the doors of restaurants equipped with drive-through windows, enabling customers to get food without leaving the comfort of their cars.
They always balked when I insisted we go inside to place our order, get our stuff and return to the car. That’s because I find face-to-face encounters with others to be more nourishing than the fast food.
That proved true on New Year’s Day when my partner, Bette, and I stopped at the McDonald’s Restaurant at Independence and Hardesty avenues to grab some coffee, burgers and fries ahead of a shopping trip. That restaurant for months has been the talk of the Northeast area because the old place was torn down to make way for a new, more modern facility.
Rebeca, 8, and Olivia, 9, who have adopted us as neighborhood grandparents, have chatted excitedly at our house about going to the new McDonald’s once it opened. We plan to treat them, but we had to go alone on this day.
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Blame it on our rising late Jan. 1 because we attended the pre-dawn New Year’s Eve World Peace Meditation at the Rime Buddhist Center, where Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté received an award, and then we partied into 2015 with others at the Guadalupe Centers Inc.
When we arrived at the new McDonald’s, a customer who was seated inside greeted us, saying: “Happy New Year! Welcome! Come on in and warm up.” There often is a closeness that people share in the Northeast area. We went to the counter to place our order but paused to enjoy a photo-op the manager had with some co-workers.
They had poured some apple juice into champagne glasses and then toasted the New Year in the new restaurant while someone snapped pictures with a cellphone. We all laughed and greeted each other with Happy New Year. We would’ve missed that at a drive-through window.
A young woman took our order. McDonald’s recently announced a new marketing strategy to emphasize real “love” in its long-running “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign.
The TV ads will include animated video in which normally combative characters such as Batman and the Joker, a mailman and a dog, a blue donkey and red elephant show affection to each other as they share McDonald’s fast food. In a big, small town like Kansas City, our neighborly closeness is all that needs to be highlighted.
It puts the fun back in eating out at a fast-food restaurant so that it is a cherished experience instead of just calories to go in a box. We chatted with the manager and some of the teenage workers behind the counter.
One girl was a student at nearby Northeast High School. She shared that she had our friend, Nadia Nibbs, as one of her teachers.
That helped us feel more bonded to that new McDonald’s. Such connections are more meaningful than the protests that occurred at that location about a year ago over the minimum wage. Strong ties between the community and the workers would help people be more supportive of good business practices and the restaurant wanting to be a good corporate citizen.
We talked to the manager about how rich witnessing the New Year’s toast was and how people might enjoy seeing such photographs on Facebook and other social media. We couldn’t have had that conversation in a drive-through window with other cars eagerly awaiting their meals to go.
Gasoline prices are down, but it’s also nice to know that we saved a lot of fuel by not having the engine idle while waiting in line to pay and then get our food. Websites on fuel economy report that idling can use a quarter to a half-gallon of fuel per hour.
In a small car like ours, it’s a half-cup of gas for five minutes of idling. The savings also is in wear and tear on the engine and less greenhouse gas damage to the environment. So by avoiding the drive-through, we didn’t contribute to global warming and damage to the planet.
The fun we got to have with others at the McDonald’s and seeing the new neighborhood asset also made the stop a great way to start the New Year.