First drive-thru-only Starbucks approved by southwest Florida city council members

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Lawmakers in southwest Florida approved the construction of a drive-thru-only Starbucks, believed to be the first kind built nationally by the Seattle-based coffee shop giant.

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Members of the Fort Myers City Council approved the development by a 4-2 vote on Monday, WINK-TV reported. The project was approved despite concerns by some council members that the building, which will not have traffic inside the building, will further snarl an already traffic-heavy area.

“I would be proud to say this is the first one in the country,” council member Johnny Streets told the television station. “But I wouldn’t be proud to say this is the first one in the country that got hit. Somebody got hit by a car.”

Customers will remain in their vehicles in one of two lines, the Fort Myers News-Press reported. One line would be for customers who ordered online, while the other is reserved for drive-up customers, according to the newspaper.

The concept is part of Starbucks Coffee Corp.’s plans to roll out the “double drive-thru” concept.

“It is a prototype and would be the first of its type in the nation,” city Planning Manager Nicole DeVaughn told Gulfshore Business.

Starbucks used a “drive-in” only idea during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the locations were still equipped for customers to venture inside when the medical crisis ended.

The new idea does away with ordering inside. The only parking will be available for employees at the chain.

“This is literally the first of its type in the world, the prototype,” Adam Bumberg, of Zimble Development Inc. of Lithia, southeast of Tampa, who is managing the project, told the News-Press in July. “The concept has no pedestrians, this is the only one that will be for drive-thru only.

“The only people in the store will be operators at the store, probably about eight at a time.”

“It is kind of a new concept, the first of its kind. Starbucks has chosen this location to do this first concept of just drive through because it seems like we are moving toward quicker service,” project engineer Kyle Glorioso of Tampa-based Level UP Development, told the newspaper. “Drive through, in-and-out, get your coffee and just go -- they’ve had a lot more success with mobile orders. It’s becoming more popular so they are trying with a mobile order pickup only lane.”

It was unclear when construction would begin, WINK reported.

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