On the very few occasions I’m allowed out of Birmingham and to another country, I have this thing about visiting McDonald’s. It has been going on for years, ever since as a teenager, we were stuck driving through France for what felt like forever and the only place we could find food was McDonald’s. This was back when salads here weren’t a thing, but they were in McDonald’s in France. Earlier this year, in Singapore I went to McDonald’s to escape the heat at the Gardens by the Bay and discovered McDonald’s there did curly fries. When flying to see my sister in Australia, my stepdad told me he didn’t see any McDonald’s when he visited, so we counted them all reached over 30…and then took a selfie in one to prove it.
Told you it was a thing.
So when McDonald’s were like, hey wanna come hear about the new stuff we’re doing you can bet I was there. It might not be popular to admit amongst “foodies” but I respect McDonald’s; If you’ve ever been in one of their kitchens between the switch between breakfast and the main menu, you’ll know it’s a feat of choreographed engineering genius. And I have, multiple times because I worked in one for a couple of breaks at uni.
Things have changed quite a bit since then and I headed over to the Wigston branch to hear more. The first thing of note is that the interiors are continuing the theme of looking a lot less 80s plastic fantastic; there’s a choice of interiors these days, so it’s out with the identikit look and in with a more modern restaurant feel. There’s also recycling, which made me unreasonably happy – recycle kids, the planet is ace!
My favourite of the newer additions is the self-service machines, which means if you’re having one of those days when you just want the world to leave you alone and let you wallow in your chicken nuggets, you really don’t have to talk to anyone. I know, because I’ve totally done this in the McDonald’s on the ramp in town and it works. There’s also going to be table service, which personally feels a bit too much for me, but if you’re a parent trying to rein in a bunch of kids then this is going to make things a lot smoother. And if you’re lucky, some of them, like the Wigston branch, has a play area for kids – I’m not jealous at all.
We also got to have a look backstage at the kitchen process, which has also changed quite a bit. It used to be that burgers were made up in batches (and disposed of if they didn’t sell in a certain timeframe) but these days they’re made up as people order them, which makes customising your meal so much easier. The kitchens are laid out in such a way that it reduces the time required to make up a burger, and whilst we weren’t nearly as speedy as the staff, we all had a go – and ate the results.
As we sat down to enjoy the fruits of our labour, we got to quiz the staff about anything McDonald’s related that we liked. Of course, I asked a whole bunch of questions, thus proving myself to be a giant nerd, but it was great to hear about the extent that McDonald’s go to develop their staff (I finally got a badge with stars), their work with Ronald McDonald House Charities offering accommodation for families with children in hospital, and also get some sneak peaks at some of the new burgers coming out soon.
I’m looking forward to seeing the new-look McDonald’s roll out across Birmingham (Cherry St was closed up for refurb last time I looked, so fingers crossed), and I’m unreasonably excited about the prospect of home-delivery nuggets…
For more information on the evolution of McDonald’s and what’s coming to local branches near you, check out: http://www.mcdonalds.co.uk/ukhome/whatmakesmcdonalds.html
Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with McDonald’s, but all rambling thoughts remain my own, as ever. By the way, the only country I’ve visited and not been to a McDonald’s in is Qatar, so if anyone fancies flying me back over…