Coach Cutcliffe, Grey Friday and the mystery of the missing drive-through

Posted by Dan Barkin on November 15, 2013 

Random thoughts at the end of a week:

•  Quietly, David Cutcliffe has brought Duke football into respectability. From what I can see, a large part of his success is his preparation. His own preparation and that of his teams. In Laura Keeley’s story Monday, in the aftermath of Duke’s victory over N.C. State, Cutcliffe was quoted as follows:

“I have checklists of all the mistakes I’ve made. Which the books, books plural, are all about this thick.”

Cutcliffe is an interesting fellow. He didn’t play football at Alabama. He was a student assistant to Bear Bryant, where he soaked it all in. When he coached at Ole Miss, his bosses wanted him to fire some assistants after a losing season. He refused, and so he was fired. Which takes a certain amount of confidence in yourself. The entire Manning family - Archie, Peyton and Eli and no doubt Olivia - thinks he is the best coach ever.

So this is quite something in our midst, Cutcliffe is.

•  The big retail story this season is that more and more stores will be opening up on Thanksgiving Day. Ever since the pilgrims, the big shopping day has been the next day, Black Friday, so-called because that’s when retailers went into the black - became profitable - for the year. As newsies, this has always been a big day for us as well, because we send reporters and photographers out in the pre-dawn chill to talk to shoppers waiting for the doorbusters. I don’t think you can claim to be a journalist if you haven’t done Black Friday duty at some point.

What has changed is that shoppers, especially young people, figured out that while the department stores might be closed on Turkey Day, the Internet was open. Online sales began to cut into the bricks-and-mortar Black Friday revenues. So the chains started opening up Thanksgiving evening. First a trickle, and now a gusher. Some chains are doing it not because they think it increases sales, but because the competition is doing it, and, there’s that Amazon.com.

•  I was in Chapel Hill one morning this week for a meeting, and I had some time, so I pulled into the McDonald’s on Franklin Street to get an Egg McMuffin. I drove completely around the building before I realized there was no drive-through. Maybe I was the last person in the Greater Triangle to realize this, but being from Clayton, I was stunned. (I was also surprised to find out that they served more than cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory.) Remembering how you did it in the old days, I parked and went in and ordered my McMuffin. When I got back to the office, I searched through our newspaper archives for the answer. And I found it. Here it is, from April 25, 2004:

Why is it that the McDonald's on Franklin Street doesn't have a drive-through window, like just about every other McDonald's in this country? There's plenty of room for one.

-- Curious

Dear Curious,

Because the Town of Chapel Hill wouldn't allow it. Drive-through windows, which are oriented toward the automobile, are seen as running counter to a longstanding principle of the town to promote a pedestrian-friendly downtown.

Drive-through windows are considered special uses in Chapel Hill's zoning regulations, and as such can be built only with the Town Council's approval of a special use permit. One of the findings the council must make in order to approve a special use permit is that the proposed development would conform with the Comprehensive Plan.

Hokey Smoke, Curious! as Rocky the Flying Squirrel might have said. A drive-through-less McDonald’s would go broke in car-friendly Clayton. In a week.

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