McDonald’s launches new automated restaurant concept designed by UXUS

Food conveyor belts and automated check-in are featured on site as part of a service overhaul aimed at app users.

Design studio UXUS has collaborated with long-standing client McDonald’s on a restaurant designed around a new service proposition which looks to meet the changing habits of its customers.

The small-format test restaurant has several new features designed to provide McDonald’s digital customers further convenience when using the Drive Thru, pick-up and delivery services. An additional Order Ahead Lane in the Drive Thru will let customers who ordered on the app skip the queue before arriving at a food and beverage conveyer belt window.

There will also be a dedicated room and parking spaces for delivery couriers in a bid to create “a more streamlined experience for couriers, and less disruption for crew and customers”, according to McDonald’s senior director of global design and restaurant development Max Carmona.

There will also be an in-restaurant pick-up shelf for click and collect customers, self-order kiosks that accept both cash and credit, and curbside pick-up parking spots for quicker access to waiting vehicles. Carmona says that Texas was chosen for the test restaurant because of the “support of a strong market in the location”.

Alongside app updates, many of these new physical features are aimed at app users, providing an “innovative, seamless experience” from order to pick up, says Carmona. He explains how the new facilities will allow restaurant teams to prepare mobile orders when customers are close to the restaurant and “automate the check-in process” when they arrive at the restaurant, “making it faster and more convenient” for app users.

The food and beverage conveyer and new kitchen format also aim to “streamline operations” and help to “manage the multitude of ways customer orders come into the restaurant”, he adds.

UXUS CCO and founder George Gottl says the studio worked closely with the McDonalds team on all of the projects design components, such as the interior design and façade architecture. Gottl says that smaller touchpoints, such as “clever graphic phrases and intuitive wayfinding” seek to differentiate the experience and make it feel “elevated”.

In a departure from a regular McDonald’s site the building’s architecture takes “a modern approach to the graphics on the façade” by deconstructing the restaurants recognisable golden arches. He adds that these “intuitive design elements” – inside and out – work by amplifying the restaurant’s new digital offer.

Based on initial testing, McDonald’s anticipates that the new restaurant format will require a similar number of staff to a traditional store based on initial testing.

Next steps will involve “continuously testing and learning” from these new concepts and technologies to improve customers’ digital experience, says Carmona. For now, the concept restaurant will remain solely in the Texas location but it could potentially roll out to in part or in full around the world, according to Carmona.

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  • Neil Littman December 8, 2022 at 8:37 am

    Not beneficial to all customers, the phrase ‘streamline operations’ says it all. My friend’s 85 year old mum who goes to a McDonalds near Newhaven or Brighton gets table service. Plenty of older customers don’t have the same mobility as others and the demographic in the UK is going that way. Apparently in about 15 years time a large percentage of the population will be in that age group. Am wondering if McDonalds take account of these issues to inform the way they run their restaurants.

  • Carl St. James December 8, 2022 at 12:07 pm

    The user experience of using a Mcdonalds restaurant has been pretty terrible for years so any attempts to redesign this around modern needs is most welcome.

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