- McDonald’s recently launched its first “McDonald’s to Go” restaurant in London – a restaurant that has no seating areas and only serves takeout.
- It’s the first new format for a McDonald’s restaurant since the drive-thru.
- The new restaurant replaces cashiers with electronic touchscreens and is completely stripped of decor and furniture.
- I visited the new McDonald’s to see what it was like firsthand.
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As technology becomes more integrated into our everyday lives, businesses are having to rapidly adapt to consumer demand for speed and efficiency.
McDonald’s is no exception.
The fast food chain is reportedly opening a fleet of new restaurants that aim to feed its customers faster by exclusively serving takeout.
The new fleet has been dubbed McDonald’s first new restaurant format since it introduced the drive-thru in the 1970s. Inside the restaurant, orders are placed on touchscreens, and there are no tables, chairs, or decor. The menu is also stripped down to the chain’s staple items like Big Macs, McNuggets, and fries.
I ventured to the first McDonald’s of its kind, located on Fleet Street in the heart of London, to see what it was like.
Here’s what the experience was like.
From the outside of the restaurant, you wouldn’t immediately guess this was a McDonald’s. Only the familiar golden “M” really gives it away. When we got a bit closer, it was clearly marked as a “to-go” version.
Walking inside, the first things in sight were the touchscreens along the wall. The interior was otherwise completely featureless — the walls were finished in dull grey, the floor was plain, and it reminded me a bit of walking into an oversize ATM vestibule.
The station with straws and napkins was the only other thing in the customers’ space. The customer space of the restaurant is much smaller than that of a regular McDonald’s – roughly the size of a small garage. After ordering at the touchscreens, customers move sideways to the collection point, with the kitchen visible behind.
The touchscreens were simple to use, with easy instructions and pictures. Once you’ve paid, you take your receipt to the collection point and wait for your number. Unlike other McDonald’s, you can only order on the touchscreens and they only take card.
This menu has apparently been stripped down, but I spotted all of McDonald’s most familiar offerings on there, like Big Macs and McNuggets. We settled for a pair of burgers and Diet Cokes.
Armed with our numbered receipt, we moved to the collection point. One of the company’s aims with this new setup is to feed its customers faster, but it didn’t feel as though the food arrived any more quickly than normal.
With no seating, customers all stand looking up at the order board as though they’re at a train station. It wasn’t crowded when we went, but the layout seemed like it was designed for customers to order, collect, and leave as quickly as possible — there’s no other option.
I would rate the overall experience as thoroughly predictable. After all, nobody ever visits McDonald’s for the chat, so we didn’t feel we were missing out on anything. The food was quick, familiar, and left us with just one big question — where to sit and eat it.
Fortunately, we found ourselves a bench in a nearby churchyard. They might find this quiet spot getting a bit busier in the next few weeks.
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