McDonald's has unveiled its restaurant of the future
McDonald's was once the undisputed king of fast food.
But with sales falling, franchisees reporting gloomy outlooks and popular "fast-casual" chains like Shake Shack and Chipotle chipping away at its fast food throne, McDonald's has seen better days.
A recently renovated McDonald's in New York City may be the first concrete glimpse of the company's extensive turnaround plan.
The Midtown location, which opened this week, boasts the city's first "Create Your Taste" kiosks. The company boasts you can craft the "burger of your dreams."
Having grown up eating at McDonald's, I was curious to see how the chain was approaching the changing market. And from what I found, the brand has a bright future ahead.
Upon opening the door, you're immediately confronted by McDonald's younger, hipper approach to the "Create Your Taste" experience: the walls are covered in enthusiastically trendy and bright New York-themed illustrations. This is part of McDonald's broader attempt to appeal to local markets.
An attentive staff member helped me through the system at first - it was a little weird getting used to, but I warmed up to it.
I decided to build my own burger. There's an extensive array of options, from fancy breads to impressive cheeses. I overheard someone say the pepper jack was surprisingly spicy.
Once your burger is ordered, you grab a table locator and sit down. It tells the servers — that's right, there are servers at McDonald's now — where you're sitting so they can bring your meal.
The wait was a good 8 minutes or so. In the mean time, I noticed the updated decor and seating; clean tables and colorful bar stools at counters are interspersed throughout.
Finally, my meal arrives - and it sure looks worth the wait. I ordered mine with bacon, tomato, fresh onions, natural cheddar cheese, guacamole, Sriracha mayo, and creamy garlic sauce, all on an artisan roll.
I have to admit, it looks a lot more appetizing than I expected from a McDonald's burger. At $10, it was also considerably more expensive than the typical Dollar Menu.
The bun was soft but not spongy, and the toppings were applied liberally - no stinging on the guacamole here! The burger was absolutely superb, and pretty filling too.
Presentation is key here: the meal comes in wire bowls, with french fries nestled in a little mesh handled basket. I'm quite impressed by the whole thing. The staff is incredibly friendly and helpful, and the restaurant is spotless for a Manhattan McDonald's.
I'd definitely get another burger there - the combinations are endless. If this is McDonald's plan for the future, then count me in.
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