McDonald's has been developing a new store concept offering build your own burger options from iPad-like kiosks. The first location in New York City to employ the concept is a busy Midtown location on 58th Street and 3rd Avenue.
McDonald's is looking to upgrade its menu options in a bid to compete with restaurants like Chipotle and Panera Bread. McDonald's has suffered 11 straight quarters of same store sales declines as consumers look for fresher, more customized options for their meals.
To combat the sales decline and keep up with the trend for fresher, self-designed food combinations, McDonald's has radically revamped its concept of the burger and how it is ordered and served. Customers can now order, choosing among numerous options of toppings and sauces, from an iPad-like "Create Your Taste" kiosk. Among the new fresh toppings is guacamole, caramelized onions and sliced jalapenos. Sauce options include spicy mayo and creamy garlic, along with the chain's signature Big Mac sauce.
It's not just the toppings that are different. While patrons can choose an artisan bun as opposed to the original sesame seed, the burger itself may be the biggest upgrade. The customizable burgers are touted as 100 percent Aussie Angus sirloin beef patties. The kiosk experience is similar to that of ordering online via a tablet, and after using the device, the customer then sits down until his or her burger is ready, upon which it is actually brought to the table and served open-faced by a McDonald's employee. Fries are presented in a metal basket as opposed to the usual paper or cardboard. All this comes at a price, however, as the new burger creations average around $9 as opposed to the average $5 to $6 cost of a regular Quarter Pounder or Big Mac.
The kiosk concept was first tested in Australia and then brought over to the U.S., where it is now being tested in hundreds of locations, mainly in California. This is the first restaurant in New York to actually employ the digital ordering system, and the reaction of the city's notoriously demanding customers may determine the ultimate success of the new high-tech McDonald's concept and whether it will roll out to other locations in the future.