McDonald’s told investors today that it intends to add kiosk ordering and modified table service at all 14,200 restaurants in the United States, Restaurant Business magazine reports. That means customers will input their own orders via touchscreen and even customize burgers without human interaction, which is expected to speed up service. Human beings won’t be eliminated completely from the service transaction, however, because staff members will bring orders to customers’ tables. The retrofit of the service system will include a general refresh of the stores. McDonald’s did not reveal how the changeover would affect labor costs or serving times—and there’s no word yet on whether tipping will be expected.
Restaurant Business digital editor Peter Romeo noted that competitors will likely feel intense pressure to follow Big Mac’s lead. With this change, McDonald’s is moving ever closer to the so-called “fast-casual” segment, which offers quick service but touts higher quality food and is exemplified by chains such as Panera, Newk’s, and Zaxby’s. In August, a concept billed as the “McDonald’s of the Future” opened in St. Joseph, Mo. The Kansas City Star reported that the location features customizable burgers with toppings such a guacamole and maple bacon, a dessert bar and table service in addition to touchscreen kiosk ordering. The chain has pursued several initiatives in an attempt to reverse sales declines. READ MORE