McDonald's Restaurant Revolution {Didcot} | AD

Sunday, 23 July 2017

McDonald's Didcot
McDonald's Didcot | via

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a blog event at a recently refurbished McDonald's restaurant in Didcot. I must say I wasn't 100% sure what to expect from the event, but it was actually really fun! You may already know that McDonalds is undergoing a refurbishment which is set to completely change the way we order, and dine in their restaurants, if you haven't not to worry! This is what the event was all about, to show us around both the front of house, and the kitchen so that we could see what changes have been made, but also why these changes are good. So here I am to tell you all about the awesome new changes that they have made to make our lives easier! Firstly we were split into two groups, to make our tour easier, my group started off with the front of the restaurant, so let's start there...

McDonalds new self serve kiosks
McDonalds new self serve kiosks

One of the biggest, and most noticeable changes in the new restaurants is the new self service Kiosks! These are touch screen and are really easy to use, everything is clearly labelled and easy to see, they even have a little button which you can press if you are a child/disabled and need the screen to be smaller so you can easily see/reach everything.

McDonalds new self serve kiosks
McDonalds new self serve kiosks

We were taken through how to place an order from start to finish, so that we could really get used to how they work. The best part about these new kiosk's is that you can completely customise your burgers, so if there is only one thing you dislike you can take that out, or if like me you are really picky, you can just make it plain! What this means is that you can make sure that your order has been placed 100% accurately for every detail you want, meaning there is no confusion at the till point, or embarrassment if like me you get shy about a long custom order. There are of course still till-points available if you would rather place your order that way, but having both options is helping McDonald's to give customers more options, and reduce queue times. Once you have paid for your order and it is placed you are given a receipt with an order number, and there is a screen above the collection point which shows you when your order is ready to collect. At that point you just take your receipt up and then take away your food.

New digital menu's at McDonalds
New digital menu's at McDonalds

Another big change with the front of house area is the new digital displays, which along with looking amazing, allow the restaurant to easily display specials to customers. I'm sure you all are used to seeing the big menu displays at McDonald's, and if you ever saw a breakfast change over then you'll know that staff had to manually flip over the displays to show the change over. Now they are digital they automatically switch over at 10:30 without the staff having to struggle with them. Although probably the coolest thing about the new digital screens is that they support animation, meaning that the menu can be living, so it can sweep across to display specials, as it has in the photograph above, or it can simply add a little twinkle next to a certain item to draw the eye to it.

Tablets for customer use
Tablets for customer use

Looking around the new restaurant it is easy to see that the focus really has been placed on creating a greater customer experience. This is especially seen with the addition of a new tablet bar, at which there are several tablets that are for customer use. There are options to surf the internet and even some games on these tablets for your children to play whilst you enjoy your food. Throughout the restaurant there are even charging stations for people to sit and work on their laptops if they like, or even simply charge their smartphones.

New drink preparation area
New drink preparation area

The final change we really spoke about in regards to the front of house area is all about the way in which staff will serve the customers. Before the member of staff at the till would take your order and then go and make your drinks/compile the order. Now there is a dedicated team who deal with all of the drinks and ice creams for the orders, so the till server can ensure they are giving you their undivided attention. Not only this but there is also a new 'table service' so if you wanted when you order, either at the till, or the Kiosk, you can tell them which section of the restaurant you are sitting in, and they will bring your food over to you no problem. Along with this the staff member delivering your food carries with them at all times extra straws, napkins and sauces, just in case there is anything you require further once they deliver your food. Meaning that if you don't want to, you shouldn't need to get up at all. That's not all, there are dedicated front of house staff, whom along with ensuring the front of house is kept clean, will now provide a higher level of service by checking in with customers to make sure they don't need anything else, or just to provide some friendly chat to make customers feel more welcome.

Being put to work in the kitchen
Being put to work in the kitchen
After we were done with the front of house, we got shown around the back. Starting in the staff room we were given our own hats, aprons, badges, and hairnets of course so we could get ourselves prepped for our 'mini shift' in the kitchen, we actually got to keep the hats, aprons and badges which I was really excited about because the aprons is this cool denim material, best believe I will be wearing this around the house. Then we were shown the chiller to dispel some of the most common McDonalds myths such as, 'McDonalds uses powdered eggs', after having a look around the chiller myself I can ensure you the eggs are very much real. Then we entered the kitchen and washed our hands thoroughly, a very important task considering we were about to make our own Big Mac burgers! Believe it or not the buns don't come in pre-toasted, they are freshly toasted when a burger is made, and they toast in 17 seconds flat... How crazy is that?

Making a Big Mac
Making a Big Mac
So to make a Big Mac of course you start with toasting the bun, then you place the bottom bun in the right side of the case, the top and middle buns go in the left. The famous Big Mac sauce goes on both the bottom bun and the middle bun, followed by onions, and lettuce on both, I was being a bit stingy with the lettuce so I had to keep adding more and then two pickles on the middle... Then you open the meat trays and place one patty on the bottom, one on the middle, you lift up the entire middle section, place it onto the bottom and then close the lid of the case, which flips up the top bun, and everything should be in place!

Me with my handmade Big Mac
Me with my handmade Big Mac
Here I am looking pleased as punch with my Big Mac, needless to say it DID NOT look like the ones in the adverts, (pictures to follow)... It was great fun getting to actually make something in the kitchen, but this was definitely the best way to show us possibly the biggest change McDonalds have made, and that is all about how they prepare/cook the food. So previously all of the burgers were batch made and completely finished and placed on a 'run' at the front of the kitchen, by the tills. Granted they were only allowed to sit there for 15 mins or so, but still 15 mins of a hot burger sitting on all of the salad meant that you could end up with a slightly soggy burger, still delicious, but maybe a little soggy. Gone are those days with the new kitchens! You may not know but for as long as I can remember McDonalds would batch cook their chicken products and leave them in these little warming drawers, only getting them out when an order was placed. It goes without saying that these were not left for hours and hours and were replaced if sat too long. Well now the same goes for the meat. The burgers are batch cooked and then the meat is set inside warming drawers until the burgers are made up. When an order is placed the burgers (and only the burgers) appear on the screen for those on that side of the kitchen, then they go through the entire process, just like we did, making the burgers fresh. This means that you get a completely fresh burger every time you come. The meat in the drawers isn't allowed to sit there any longer than the recommended time, and they all have their own individual timers, which alert the staff to when they have been sat too long. If the timer goes off the leftover meat is binned and fresh is made. It certainly makes me confident in the freshness of the product I am eating!

My Big Mac vs. The Advert
My Big Mac vs. The Advert
Once we were done in the kitchen we got to sit, and whilst we were waiting for the other group to finish, we got to sit down, eat our Big Mac's and ask any questions we liked to the Managers of several restaurant's in the area. I thought it would be really funny to show you what my big mac looked like next to one from the advert, needless to say I won't be getting offered a job in the McDonald's kitchens any time soon. What my Big Mac lacked in looks it definitely made up for in taste, and having not eaten a big mac for a good six years at least it was very satisfying. Although our food tasting did not stop there, we were all invited to try the new Signature menu, which consists of three new burgers with thicker patties; The BBQ, The CLASSIC and The SPICY. Every single person decided to go for the BBQ with their own alterations, I basically had mine without salad, and we even got them as as meal. Whilst we were sitting one of the managers kindly gave us all the gold stars to fill out our badges so that we could become honorary crew members, its amazing how excited we all were by these little stars!

The BBQ Signature Meal
The BBQ Signature Meal
The signatures come in their own stylish black packaging, and if you order a meal you even get a black container for your fries, which I am a big fan of, it just looks so sleek. The burgers come in a beautiful striped wrapper so that you can hold your burger without getting grease or sauce all over yourself. The BBQ burger that I chose comes with BBQ sauce, bacon, cheese and then the items I chose to remove were lettuce, red onion and coleslaw. All of the signatures also come inside a Brioche bun, which if you've never had a burger on brioche, I recommend you do so right away, as it's hands down my favourite way to eat them! The big difference between the signature burgers and the regular is the thickness of the meat, and that is what makes them a stand out burger for me. Being thicker means that whilst you get a nice crisp coating on the outside, the inside of the meat stays really juicy, and is probably hands down the nicest burger I have ever eaten from McDonald's. The BBQ signature has quickly become my go-to order whenever I go to a newer McDonald's!

Once we were fully stuffed and had finished having all of our McDonald's myths busted, we slowly made our way out of the restaurant and home, I say slowly because I was so full I could only move slowly, but that's the best way I can think of to leave a McDonald's, with your belly full and a big smile on your face...

A big thank you to McDonald's in Didcot for hosting this event and being so gracious, if you are ever in that area I highly suggest that you pop in for yourself as all the staff there are lovely!

**This is a sponsored post for McDonald's and as such I have been reimbursed for my time and travel expenses, However all opinions within this post remain my own**
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