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Arizona restaurant expert skeptical about success of fast-food delivery

PHOENIX — Changes are coming to the fast-food industry, but an Arizona restaurant professional thinks the latest innovation won’t have much impact in Phoenix.

Taco Bell will be offering delivery service at more than 200 restaurants around Los Angeles, San Francisco and Dallas.

Some Phoenix restaurants are already offering similar service — a Kentucky Fried Chicken in north Phoenix and other restaurants use an app that lets customers order food for delivery.

Arizona Restaurant Association President Steve Chucri isn’t convinced that delivery services for fast food restaurants will do well in Arizona.

“The philosophy and the idea of having delivery services to one’s home from a quick-serve restaurant is really going to be more successful in a strong urban environment, not in an environment like Arizona, where we have sprawl and suburbs and the like,” Chucri said.

Drive-thrus do well, he said, because Arizonans love their cars. And he doesn’t think Arizonans will want to pay a delivery fee to get fast food.

“(Fast food) is the lowest segment in the industry as it relates to cost of food,” Chucri said.

“If you’re going and spending $4 for a combo, and it’s costing you $3 to (have it delivered), I don’t see how that kind of a platform is sustainable.”

Chucri pointed out there were some areas of the state where this kind of service could be successful — the more urbanized areas where more millennials live.

He said millennials were more into the idea of delivery than they are of getting into the car and driving. One area in particular is Tempe.

“I think it would be incredibly popular there along Mill Avenue and some of the other areas,” Chucri said.

But drive-thrus aren’t going away any time soon. A drive-thru performance study conducted in 2013 showed that 60 to 70 percent of the business at fast-food restaurants comes from the drive-thru.

“Drive-thrus are pretty nice nowadays,” Chucri said. “You’ve got two lanes instead of one. When you see that kind of investment in infrastructure, I think you can rest assured that they’re not going anywhere.”