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McDonald's to expand 'build your own burger' test

McDonald's
OAK BROOK, Ill. (AP) - McDonald's plans to expand a test this year that lets people order customized burgers.

The world's biggest hamburger chain began testing the waters of personalized orders last year with a "build-your-own burger" concept at a location in California. In addition to its traditional menu, the restaurant in Laguna Niguel offers tablets on which people can tap out the bun, patty, cheese and toppings they want on their burgers.

Kevin Newell, U.S. brand and strategy officer for McDonald's, said in an interview that the offering is a "huge driver." Without providing specific figures on the sales impact, he said it's attracting a different type of customer and more of a dinner-time crowd.

The purpose of the expanded test is to get more data, Newell said.

"It'll be more than five, less than a hundred," he said when asked how many restaurants would be testing the menu, hewing to the company's practice of keeping planned tests tightly under wraps. But he said the additional locations will also be in Southern California.

The test reflects a push by McDonald's to adapt to the growing trend toward customization in the fast-food industry. The popularity of Chipotle and Subway, for instance, is largely due to the fact that people can dictate exactly what they want on their burritos and sandwiches.

With McDonald's, by contrast, many people know exactly what's supposed to go into its famous burgers and sandwiches. An ad jingle even once explained the makeup of a Big Mac - "two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on a sesame bun."

Now, however, executives in Oak Brook, Ill., are trying to change the perception that people can't customize their orders at McDonald's.

Aside from the "build-your-own burger" test, for instance, the chain is rolling out new prep tables in the kitchens of its more than 14,000 U.S. restaurants. The table are built to accommodate many more toppings and dressings than McDonald's currently offers, suggesting the company has plans to expand its lineup of ingredients. For instance, people might be able to request jalapenos or salsa on their burgers or sandwiches at some point.

Of course, the early signs of promise for the "build-your-own burger" test in California are far from a guarantee of broader success. It could be that people are just drawn by the initial novelty of the test. The chain has already made adjustments to the test, too, such as cooking its Quarter Pounders on a flat grill instead of char-grilling them.

It's also not clear whether McDonald's would be able to translate the concept across its broad network of restaurants, in part because it requires a separate grill in the kitchen where the patties for the customized burgers are cooked in a slower fashion.

"We've got to figure out, can we do it operationally?" Newell noted.

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Bob February 27 2014 at 12:14 PM

When I go to McDonald's it is for fast food not a gourmet restaurant. Quick easy buy eat it get out of there and go about my business. If the people at the cash register can't handle no onions or ketchup only then something is wrong.

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2 replies
Judith Bob February 27 2014 at 1:39 PM

They can handle no onions or ketchup - what they can't handle even now that they have grilled onions on a cheeseburger on their $1 menu is grilled AND raw onions, nothing else! LOL

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gkylemoore4318 Bob February 27 2014 at 3:16 PM

They can handle No onions easy; the problem is what they have been handling just before they do; and don't think they read those signs in the bathroom, that say employee must wash hands!

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Rob February 28 2014 at 5:36 AM

I don't think they have enough ingredients in the store to make a burger I would like. The ONLY reason I go to MacDonalds is for the fries and that is a crap shoot. One time I get good fresh french fries (I know, they're bad for me), and the next time they are cold and mealy.

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Constance February 28 2014 at 5:27 AM

BRING BACK YOUR STEAMY DANISH CHEESE AND APPLE...... YOUR NEW STRUDELS ARE CRAP

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jim joanne bryan February 27 2014 at 9:17 PM

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OLD DAYS WHEN THEY COOKED THEN ON A GRILL AS YOU WATCHED????? I HATE THAT WARMED OVER STEAMED TASTE!! THEY USED TOOK COOK THEMFRESH AND SLIDE THEM DOWN THE CHUTES THEY HAD,THAT WAS THE WAY WHO WAS THE IDIOT WHO SCREWED THAT UP? (BRING IT UP AND FIRE THE GUY THAT STOPPED HAVING THEM FRESH COOKED AS YOU WATCHED!!!

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Sunny February 27 2014 at 8:34 PM

They should bring back the Mc DLT.

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2 replies
bdgrizcp Sunny February 28 2014 at 4:19 AM

That was a good burger.

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Jason Sunny February 28 2014 at 4:33 AM

What the hell is a DLT?

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Danny February 27 2014 at 5:33 PM

they already charge you extra for more secret sauce which is why I quit going.

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jjkitch February 27 2014 at 4:53 PM

sounds great if you eat there,, lol

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mwoosley3 February 27 2014 at 4:50 PM

It's been 12-14 years since the last time I had anything from Mickey D's.. Haven't missed them at all..

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arenadood February 27 2014 at 4:40 PM

Just keep your little child away from the pad and all will be ok. :)

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rdscars February 27 2014 at 3:45 PM

Sounds like Burger King to me... The ol' have it your way slogan

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