As it turns out, reports of the drive-thru restaurant’s death may have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, COVID-19 may have saved them—and caused more eateries to adopt the model. Case in point: Three spots are opening their first drive-thru locations in Colorado. The second outpost of Chicken Rebel, debuting August 2021 in Westminster, will have a window for ordering from your vehicle; Denver Biscuit Co. will launch its first drive-thru location in the former Steak ‘n Shake in Centennial; and Vietnamese drink chain Bambu recently opened a spot on South Broadway where you can get takeout without leaving your car.
“We were drawn to the drive-thru model after the impact of COVID changed the fabric of restaurants,” says Chicken Rebel owner Lydie Lovett. “Overnight, we went from primarily dine-in service to all takeout and delivery.”
The pandemic drove Lovett to switch gears, focusing on serving those loaded chicken sandwiches and tots in a takeaway environment. It worked, so Chicken Rebel’s upcoming location at the Shops at Walnut Creek in Westminster will blend a fast-food set-up with the warm, family-focused dine-in environment Lovett strives for. The new outpost will lean into that quick-service convenience with options like kids’ meals, shakes, and family-size portions, in addition to the staples that have made Chicken Rebel so popular since Lovett brought her San Diego food stand to the Mile High City in 2017, including the green chile cream cheese-stuffed fried chicken sandwich and Nashville hot chicken stacked with cool ranch slaw and pickle chips.
Denver Biscuit Co. saw similar success with takeout during the pandemic, and so its doubling down on to-go offerings by refitting a Centennial Steak ‘n Shake to dispense its massive biscuit sandwiches. So yes, you can soon grab gargantuan biscuit cinnamon rolls and plenty of the Franklins (DBC’s iconic sandwich with bacon, cheddar, and buttermilk fried chicken loaded onto a biscuit and smothered with sausage gravy) from the comfort of your vehicle. When it opens this fall, the Centennial spot will be Denver Biscuit Co.’s seventh location and sixth in Colorado.
California-based chain Bambu relocated its chè, boba tea, and Vietnamese coffee shop from South University Boulevard to a former drive-thru-equipped Dairy Queen on South Broadway. If you haven’t tried chè, it’s a sweet, layered, custard-like dessert served in a cup. The treat can include anything from pandan jelly to mung beans to coconut milk—all made fresh to order. Bambu also serves mochi, smoothies, and fruit-filled yogurts, so it just might become your summer HQ.