Recently, Mcdonald’s invited me along to its Cardiff Culverhouse Cross branch on Copthorne Way for a first-hand insight into a number of changes introduced as part of the multi-national fast food chain’s ‘restaurant evolution’.
As I lived in Ely throughout my childhood, this was my local branch for many years and so it was quite nostalgic for me to go back to this branch; although it has certainly changed a lot since I last went there!
After sitting down with some of the branch and area managers for a chat about the exciting new features involved in McDonald’s restaurant evolution, I went on a guided tour of the dining area and kitchen, enabling me to see what really goes on behind-the-scenes.
McDonald’s restaurant evolution is all about making the food ordering process as convenient and fast as possible, without compromising on quality of food, or customer service. At the same time, it’s become easier than ever to customise your order – get rid of the gherkins or onions, take away the sauce or add extra cheese or bacon; just to highlight a few possibilities.
Here are some of the key features being introduced at McDonald’s as part of its restaurant evolution:
Digital technology plays a big part in revolutionising the McDonald’s experience. Newly installed tablets offer a variety of exciting apps to entertain you as you eat, and keep the kids entertained whilst you polish it all off.
Order and Collect kiosks
To speed up the ordering process and avoid having to queue, McDonald’s have brought in digital Order and Collect kiosks. These touchscreen displays enable you to tailor your order and pay there and then, so you don’t have to spend time standing in line during busy periods. You can even scan vouchers for discounted or complimentary food on these kiosks, whereas often you have to wait to see a staff member to redeem a voucher of this kind.
Food can be ordered to eat-in or takeaway and if you touch the wheelchair symbol in the bottom-right hand corner, the menu slides down to the bottom of the screen, meaning it is just as easy for disabled customers to order through the Order and Collect kiosk (equally as useful for small people, like me!)
Another way that McDonald’s have attempted to simplify the ordering process is by introducing the option to place your order through your mobile phone. Simply scan the QR code at the bottom-right of one of the new menu display screens, and you can order and pay in a matter of minutes through the McDonald’s app.
Wireless phone charging points
There’s nothing worse than your phone battery dying whilst your out-and-about, which is why McDonald’s has built phone charging points into the dining tables at many of its restaurants. Just place your phone over the centre of the charger, and it’ll start changing – no need to faff around with any wires.
One of the biggest changes to be introduced as part of the McDonald’s restaurant evolution, is that of table service. I was surprised to discover that if you order through the Order and Collect kiosk, you can choose to have your meal brought over to your table by a staff member, so you can take a seat and relax while you wait for your food to arrive.
Parents will be pleased to know that McDonald’s have improved the design of their high-chairs so that they now include a disposable plastic big to avoid any messy mistakes when dining out with the kids.
After playing around with McDonald’s new digital technology, I was escorted on a behind-the-scenes tour of the kitchen, to see the quality ingredients being used and witness the cooking process in action. The McDonald’s restaurant evolution aims to make the food preparation process even quicker than ever before through revolutionised kitchen design, whilst also ensuring that the food is still just as fresh as ever.
Wearing a McDonald’s hat, hair net and apron complete with my very own name badge, I washed my hands at the sink before being guided through the kitchen, and shown the food storage/preparation areas and equipment.
Being inside the busy kitchen at McDonald’s is like being on a factory production line, with each part of the kitchen designated for use in preparing or cooking a specific product. Chicken is cooked on one side of the kitchen, while beef is prepared on the other side, and vegetarian produce and fries have their own sections too.
The start of the ‘production line’ is where you’ll find the bread buns and wraps. There is a different kind of bun or wrap to go with just about every kind of McDonald’s burger you can order.
The bread is toasted in a big industrial toaster before being passed along to the next stage of the food preparation process.
Sauces are squirted directly onto the bread buns/wraps using a sauce dispenser that works like a gun – aim the nozzle wherever you want the sauce to be released, and then press the trigger to ‘fire’ the sauce onto it. There is a different gun for each kind of sauce, as pictured below.
The burgers are then topped with fresh ingredients and (if applicable) cheese. The diagrams above the sauce guns in the picture above show which ingredients need to go into each burger, the quantity to use, and the order in which to place them onto the bread bun.
Finally, the all-important beef patty or chicken fillet burger is added to the burger using a pair of tongs. To ensure a ready supply of hot burgers so that the customer doesn’t have to wait for their food to be cooked, whilst also making sure food stays fresh and isn’t kept hot for too long, McDonald’s keep its burgers in heated cabinets which are linked to an overhead display screen indicating how long the burgers in each tray have been kept hot for. The meat is disposed if it isn’t used up within a specified amount of time, ensuring a tasty product for the customer and reducing the potential for contamination.
The burger is then wrapped and placed onto a tray, where it is picked up by the serving staff, paired with a carton of freshly cooked fries and a drink (if ordered as part of a meal), and handed over to the customer/taken to the table.
After being shown how to make a McDonald’s burger, I was then tasked with the exciting challenge of making my very own Big Mac! As a Big Mac has three parts to it – the crown, the club and the heel – you have to remember which ingredient to place onto which part of the burger, which makes it slightly trickier. After toasting all three parts of the bun, I added the Big Mac sauce to the heel, before adding a handful of iceberg lettuce, a pinch of diced onions and two gherkin slices. Then, I added a slice of cheese and one beef burger, before the club. On top of the club, I placed more lettuce, onions and another burger, before placing the crown on top as the finishing touch. Here I am pictured below with my masterpiece!
It wasn’t bad for my first attempt at making a Big Mac, although I think I could have done with using a little less lettuce and taking more care to align the burger and bun together neatly.
I really enjoyed finding on out about the new changes being introduced at McDonald’s as part of its restaurant evolution, and I definitely think these improvements will make the ordering and dining process more hassle-free and enjoyable for customers. It was fascinating to discover what goes on behind-the-scenes in a McDonald’s kitchen, and I was surprised to learn about all the different quality control measures that are in place. I don’t think I’ll ever find myself in a McDonald’s kitchen again, but it was fun to get into the spirit of things by donning the staff uniform and I’ve already managed to trick a few of my friends into thinking I’ve landed myself a new job!
What do you think about the new changes being introduced as part of the McDonald’s restaurant evolution?
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