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 Dec. 20, 2014
The James Steeno Gallery features many unique items, but his Milwaukee area maps really stand out and have caught the attention of many, including our own Nick Barth.
Published Dec. 19, 2014
The Milwaukee Coffee Guild's unique holiday offering, the "Milwaukee Coffee Passport," gets you a free 12-ounce drink at participating local coffee shops.
Published Dec. 18, 2014
Family owned and operated since 1922, A.J. Ugent Furs and Fashions features an extensive collection of furs, leathers, shearlings, woolens for men and women.
Published Dec. 16, 2014
With the holiday seasons in full swing, OnMilwaukee.com, our ShopLocal marketplace and Local First Milwaukee have teamed to offer many unique, local items and deals. Here's the first one.
Published Dec. 10, 2014
The SURG Restuarant Group and owners Michael Polaski and Omar Shaikh have brought together some unique "once in a lifetime" opportunities all to help a friend and military leader with more than 20 years of service.
Published Dec. 9, 2014
Come on, good people of Milwaukee, let's put an end to the phrase "I'll do the ...." It's "may I please have (or order) the honey wheat bagel?" "Thank you." That's how you place your order.
Published Dec. 7, 2014
Thrillist has issued its 2014 list of "The 21 Best New Restaurants in America." And, one Milwaukee restaurant makes the cut.
Published Dec. 2, 2014
They're fun, easy to use, free for those less then 30-minute trips to meetings and a great addition to our city's transit infrastructure. But, after today, they're gone for the season.
Published Dec. 1, 2014
The Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival ornaments are one-of-a-kind keepsakes. Great gifts for family, friends, co-workers and business associates, each year features an iconic Downtown landmark cast in pewter.
Published Dec. 1, 2014
Cracked Designs brings a unique flare and fun to its posters, cards, T-shirts and more.