From Waiters to iPads, McDonald’s UK is Breaking Its Own Mold

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As the fast-casual sector continues to rise and wallet-watching consumers keep seeking out culinary alternatives that don’t break the bank, the fast-food nation is trying to find ways to keep drawing in customers.

McDonald’s, in the midst of a $3 billion global image upgrade, is trying to impress Chinese consumers with specialized promotions. And now it’s completely turning the fast-food experience on its head in the UK, where it’s in the spotlight as the official restaurant sponsor of the London 2012 Summer Olympics.

Its British franchisees have been offering limited “Great Tastes of America” menu items evoking regional favorites, from Texas BBQ and Chicago to this week’s Arizona Nacho Grande.

Now the word from the Daily Mail’s ThisIsMoney website is that Mickey D’s is testing out waiter service at a handful of its 1,200 UK outlets. “If you have lots of bags, kids or are a large group, table service can be easier and less stressful,” commented McDonald’s top UK exec Jill McDonald.[more]

Other visitors who are sick of the lines can make their orders by touchscreens (also tested by McDonald’s franchisees in Texas and in France) and pick up their food away from the hoi polloi who are waiting to get that human element to the food-ordering process.

There is also a plan to test a hybrid boardroom/party room that can be rented out by businesses that need a meeting space along with having sofas, extendable tables, “banks of iPads” for consumers to use, and “projectors beaming magic tricks to keep children entertained,” ThisIsMoney notes.

The hope, of course, in creating a more premium brand experience is that some kind of revenue magic can happen, too.

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