Adventures in fast food: A firsthand account of open lunch

Fact No. 1 – Thursday was not as successful as Wednesday.

The Marietta Times reporting staff has been looking at various aspects of Marietta High School’s open lunch policy, allowing students to drive for lunch away from the school grounds.

I decided to take a personal stake in this project and find out how possible it is to leave school and drive somewhere for lunch (either eating there or dining al fresco in the eatery’s parking lot).

Thursday, I started from the parking lot off Davis Avenue during the second lunch period from 12:14 to 12:59 p.m. My plan was to drive to Subway in the Frontier Shopping Center order, eat my sandwich at a leisurely pace and drive back to the school parking lot, obeying all traffic signs and signals … and posted speed limits as I am sure all high school student drivers do.

I chose Subway on Thursday because I have been there when the line to order is hanging out the door. I also observed the second lunch period at the high school seemed to be busier with the number of students and cars leaving the lots.

I left the Davis Avenue side parking lot, turned right onto Muskingum Drive, right on Colegate Drive and down to Glendale Road. Not a bad distance down to Subway, and not much was getting in my way to slow me down. After a 3.4-mile trip, I opened the door at 12:25 p.m., and I was backed up to the door. At 12:35, after several subs and a chopped salad were completed before mine, I finally picked up my chicken breast on Italian herb and cheese bread (not toasted. I don’t like them toasted) and chips and filled up my cup with iced tea. I took a seat at a two-top, allowing me to see who was coming and going.

First time check: 12:42 p.m. I am only half finished with my lunch.

12:43 p.m. Customers are lined up back to the door again.

12:51 p.m. Finished and back to the car, eight minutes before time to be back.

Unfortunately, at 1:01 p.m., I arrived back at the parking lot, from where I started.

Two minutes late! Curses!

Fact No. 2: Don’t take 15 minutes to eat lunch at Subway. Eat fast or take it back to school.

On Wednesday, during the first lunch period, I started from the lot on the Colegate side and headed to McDonald’s on Glendale.

At that time, I thought making it back to school would be no big deal.

With the first lunch period being from 11:25 to 12:10, fewer working people were there. I think that peak period would be at noon.

I ordered via the drive through, and enjoyed a McDouble and a small Diet Coke in the parking lot. The entire trip took just three minutes, and I was out of the drive-through and into an empty spot.

Going back was a bit slower. I arrived back at the high school lot at 11:49, mainly because I was caught at a red light, with 21 minutes to spare. Mission accomplished.

During Wednesday’s second lunch, I left the Colegate Drive side of the high school at 12:14, as other students were starting their lunchtime rituals. It took just five minutes from MHS to Wendy’s on Muskingum Drive. I decided to eat in as a few students were doing. I dined until 12:44 p.m. and returned to the lot at 12:50 p.m., six minutes before the bell.

During my trip to Wendy’s, I talked to two students, Stephen Herron and Stephen Frum.

Herron said he leaves school pretty much every day for lunch and he seldom cuts it close. He usually gets back to school with 10 minutes to get to his classes after lunch.

As far as if open lunch is a good idea, Herron said, “It has its pros and cons with a lot of people wrecking.”

Frum thought open lunch was a great idea and that he goes out every day.

“We can support community restaurants, and you get a larger variety than what you do at school,” Frum, 17, said. “There’s traffic stuff you can’t always account for.”

And, finally on Friday, Cone & Shake was my destination from the Davis Avenue side of the high school.

During the second lunch period, I left at 12:13 on the heels of two or three other student-driven vehicles. My trip to Cone & Shake took 12 minutes, arriving at 12:36. I ordered two hot dogs, onion rings and iced tea. Because of the time, I high-tailed it back to the school lot. Finally, I arrived back at 12:53, six minutes before the end of lunch.

Kristina Neader, Cone & Shake co-owner with her husband, Jeff, said they do get some high school business. Neader said all the food is made to order, but with only two fryers, it can take some time to get all the food out.

Fact No. 3: The white Mustang not stopping coming off the hill on Clifton Street did not help my travel time.