The Chain Gang

Table Service Is McDonald’s Next Act of Desperation

I'm sorry, pretty sure I ordered this <i>medium</i>.
I’m sorry, pretty sure I ordered this medium. Photo: McDonalds

Right as these alien Create Your Taste kiosks are creeping in, there’s a second disruption to the McForce: restaurant-style table service — occurring at 50 U.S. locations. The idea is that customers can punch in their extra-extra-extra bacon-guac-pineapple custom burger order, pay, and then go hang out at a table until it arrives. This has been a thing at McDonald’s locations in Australia (surprise, surprise), France, and Germany for a while, and the concept is also being tested in the U.K. The waiters will come to tables bearing whatever condiments, sugar, or maybe even napkins and utensils, they can stuff into their apron pockets.

While it’s just in a test phase in America, McDonald’s is fully committed to the idea in the U.K., where it plans to install table service at all 1,250 locations. A McDonald’s U.K. executive explains that customers who get table service “think it’s more comfortable, less stressful, and actually faster.” (Although what’s with this think?)

Since changes to food aren’t doing the trick (McDonald’s announced this week that sales of fancy sirloin burgers “didn’t meet our expectations,” so they’re gone forever after this summer), the company wants to spruce up to the vibe. But it’s hard to say if Americans can be wooed by ostensibly comfier waits in a booth, if what they’re waiting on isn’t the Big Mac version of Chipotle.

Funnily enough, news of Create Your Taste kiosks got people wondering if these machines are part of a C-suite conspiracy to replace McDonald’s human employees with computer screens, especially with the specter of having to eventually pay them $15 an hour. McDonald’s has already told reporters the answer is no — employees at stores with kiosks “have shared that interacting with customers is still an engaging and important part of their jobs.” But walking burgers out to customers obviously requires a human workforce … at least until the kiosks get legs.

[CNN, Guardian]

Table Service Is McDonald’s Next Act of Desperation