Adding or Expanding Drive-Thru to Your Food Service Operations? Pay Attention to Stacking Requirements - Wells + Associates

Adding or Expanding Drive-Thru to Your Food Service Operations? Pay Attention to Stacking Requirements

Since the onset COVID-19 pandemic, the operation of drive-thru lanes at restaurants has become critical to their survival. Due to restrictions on dining indoors, restaurants have been required to rely on existing drive-thru operations or innovate to provide similar curbside delivery. According to market research by The NBD Group published in late 2020, drive-thru represents 43% share of site traffic, representing a 24% growth over the previous year.

Drive-thru operations have become critical to sustain restaurants and many restaurants are now adding drive-thru operations or expanding their current drive-thru for increased volume. In the Denver Metro Area, popular fast casual restaurants like Chipotle in Brighton and Parker and Sweetgreen in Highlands Ranch opened their first drive-thru operations in Colorado in late 2020.

Drive-Thru Stacking Requirements

For restaurants exploring the addition of drive-thru operations, it is important to note many municipalities in the Denver Metro Area currently have requirements for stacking spaces in drive-thru lanes. Stacking spaces are used to measure the capacity of a drive-thru lane to hold vehicles while transactions occur at drive-thru facilities.

JurisdictionMinimum Stacking Requirements (# of spaces)
Arapahoe County10 per window
Jefferson County6 (120 feet) per window w/ 80 feet between order box and pick-up window
ArvadaIf shared pay/pick-up window: 6 behind menu board + 3 between menu and window. If separate pay and pick-up windows: 4 behind the menu + 3 to 1st window + 2 between windows.
Thornton5 per 1-3 window(s) or station(s); 3 per 4+ windows or stations
Glendale8 from order box
Wheat Ridge6 behind the order box; 4 order box to pick up window


Need help understanding your stacking requirements or need a traffic letter to accompany your proposed development? Contact our Colorado transportation engineering team.