I've heard some rumblings that a new drive-through restaurant proposal for Downtown Milwaukee could be announced soon.
Yet, there's a bit of unwritten rule about drive-through in Downtown areas. Most city planners don't like them, and here in Milwaukee – well – you can't find one.
Several years ago, the Dunkin' Donuts on West Wisconsin Avenue wanted to build a drive-through in concert with a renovated restaurant. It didn't get the necessary support and approval, and ended up moving a block away into a smaller space at 622 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Many have told me that the reason for the lack of a new and improved Walgreen's Downtown has its roots in the fact that the company doesn't have a drive-through at its Grand Avenue location and that people tend to get prescriptions filled close to home rather than close to their work. Yet, with more than 20,000 people now living in and around Downtown, this argument doesn't hold a lot of water.
Yes, there are a banks in Downtown that have drive-through tellers and lanes. They work very well. But, food places? Zero. Should there be more food drive or walk/bike-through options? I say, yes.
Trust me, I'm all about a more pedestrian-focused, walkable and transit-friendly Downtown that features more cabs, the coming soon streetcar line, better way finding, new bicycle lanes and a hopeful rerouting of a few of the bus lines. But, convenience drives decisions and drive-throughs provide another option for people. Sure, logistics play a role. Wisconsin Avenue's probably too dense for a drive-through, but other streets and areas would work.
I spent more than 10 years "fighting" for Wells Street to go to full two-way street. The possible obstacles and opposition was strong, vocal and at times hilarious. Since the change, life has gone on and traffic, both automobile and walkers/bikers, are safer. My point? Change can be good, and at the right place, a drive-through probably won't kill Downtown.
I asked Beth Weirick, executive director at Milwaukee Downtown, for her thoughts and she told me, "I completely understand why there are not drive-through establishments on Wisconsin Avenue. I met with Dunkin' Donuts and the City to see if we could make a drive-through work and it just couldn't at that current location.
"I don't know why we couldn't make one work if we had more two-way streets and off/on secondary streets. I always thought that the location of the former Greyhound (station) would be a good spot."
Now, which drive-through should it be, Milwaukee? And where? Park East? Hmmmm. Your thoughts?
How *dare* someone be able to drive thru a downtown coffee shop like Colectivo, Starbucks on their way to work! We MUST make them find parking, pay for the parking, walk to the coffee place (especially when it's below zero), buy their coffee, walk back to their car, and then drive off. That really is wicked efficient and inviting!
Yes, let's encourage even more driving and less walking in our city center. Let's also make walking more dangerous at the same time by encouraging more active curb cuts over sidewalks. And finally, let's hope anonymous chains proliferate.
Makes all sorts of sense.
Why would you possibly consider cars as the proper transportation downtown? It limits foot traffic, which makes spending less likely at more businesses. Promoting additional traffic in a congested area is nonsensical. Drive-throughs are heavily associated with chains, especially fast food.
So, is the point of this that we need to eat crappier food, support less local business, walk less, and be generally lazier? Sure... that's great for all.
If Downtown Chicago can do it with a Portillo's, Milwaukee should be able to handle it. Problem is, many of our elected officials are anti-car so they would rather make it more difficult to drive downtown and actually make things easier. They'd prefer traffic, overzealous parking checkers, and people walking long distances in the cold. A drive-thru is counter to all those city-held beliefs.
4 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Jeff Sherman
Published Sept. 18, 2014
The inaugural Concert 4 MACC, a benefit event for Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (The MACC Fund), is next week. And, there are many new reasons to support the cause.
Published Sept. 17, 2014
On Oct. 3-5, the Marcus Center Grounds and Pere Marquette Park will transform Downtown Milwaukee into a traditional Bavarian Oktoberfest celebration activating both sides of the Milwaukee River with beer gardens, music and food.
Published Sept. 12, 2014
This week, I'm picking this gaming table from Peabody's Interiors. It's on the higher end of my picks, but it's well made, classic and a conversation starter. Peabody's is located in Brown Deer and uses its online marketplace to showcase its quality products, its designer options and to support the Wisconsin Humane Society.
Published Sept. 8, 2014
Only one Milwaukee pizza place appears on a new "101 Best Pizzas in America" list from The Daily Meal.
Published Sept. 4, 2014
The premise of "Shark Tank" is simple. Entrepreneurs make business presentations to a panel of potential investors. It's entertaining, real, honest and fun. And, it's a great watch for kids.
Published Sept. 3, 2014
The U.S. Navy christened its newest littoral combat ship, the USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) in a ceremony at the Marinette Marine Corporation shipyard in Marinette in January. Now, there's some cool gear for your to wear, too.
Published Aug. 29, 2014
The months old, "Now Open" banner was ruining the view, the street and the patio's look and feel. So, I tweeted about it. Respectfully, of course. And, nearly instantly, management responded.
Published Aug. 28, 2014
This time around, Milwaukee lands on Anne Roderique-Jones', a freelance travel writer at Yahoo! and other sites, list of "7 Underrated but Intriguing U.S. Cities You Need to Visit."
Published Aug. 27, 2014
Cute and cuddly, this pup makes a great gift and a perfect good luck charm for the rest of the season. Buy one of these 8-inch tall dogs today and a percentage of the sale will be donated to Wisconsin Humane Society in honor of Hank.
Published Aug. 21, 2014
To celebrate Debra Usinger's life and her dedication to civic life in Milwaukee, the Milwaukee RiverWalk District initiated and yesterday dedicated a memorial to honor her. The memorial is, appropriately, part of the RIverWalk that is directly across the river from Usinger's Famous Sausage.