Ever since I was a little girl, McDonalds has always been a place filled with excitement and good feelings. Whether it be a treat after a good school report, a place to hang out with friends on the
Maltese waterfront after-school, or else just somewhere to go now, as a teacher, when a quick snack is needed after a long day of teaching and marking books, I know that I can always rely on McDonald’s to give me that little bit of comfort. I’ve eaten McDonald’s all over the world, in France, Spain and Germany alike, and the convenience of going into a restaurant and ordering a meal, knowing full well that it’ll be exactly as you want it, appeals to me on so many levels.
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited witness the entire magic of McDonalds behind the scenes, in their Huyton Page Moss restaurant. Huyton’s a little bit out of the way for me, but the promise of an amazing experience spurred me on and I made my way (bags of school books in hand) to see what REALLY happens in the McDonald’s kitchen. I was advised that we (a few other bloggers and I) would get to meet a few of the people behind the Page Moss restaurant and learn all about how the company has transitioned into a multi-functional, technologically advanced comapny, as well as have the opportunity to make my very own burger. That’s right: with my own, bare hands. What a blinking fabulous opportunity!
I happened to go to the restaurant with 2 of my blogger friends, and after a quick detour via a different restaurant in Huyton, we arrived at Page Moss just in time for the shenanigans. We were greeted by Diane, the restaurant manager, and one of the men who had franchised into the McDonald’s brand, Mark Blundell. Mark has worked within the McDonald’s brand for 30 years and currently owns 5 restaurants across Liverpool. He is set to open a sixth restaurant, in Great Homer Street which will inevitably introduce jobs to the area. It’s also the first restaurant to be built within restaurant for 16 years, so definitely something to look forward to!
We sat down and Mark provided little drinks for us to sip at whilst he explained the enormous amount of changes that the restaurant, and the brand as a whole, had undergone over the last few years. He explained that whilst in the past food may have been sitting around for a short period of time (as in, twenty seconds maximum), ALL food at McDonald’s is now made fresh to order so there are no concerns about whether or not the food is fresh, hot and properly cooked. It also leads to improved customer convenience; you can order your burger exactly as you want it, with or without different ingredients, with no worry that you’ll be standing around waiting for an insufferable amount of time for your lunch. Making a quarter pounder without onions, for example, would take exactly the same amount of time to make as a normal, unaltered quarter pounder because of their fresh to order policy – an average time of between 120 and 180 seconds, Mark claims. The group split into two at this point, and myself, Sam and Katy went deep into the staff area and were kitted out with our very own, personalised McDonald’s uniform. To be honest with you, I don’t think I’ve ever been more chuffed to receive an apron and a hat as a gift and I was quick to get stuck in and put it on!
I’m not a big fan of the classic Big Mac burger so I opted to make my own Quarter Pounder with Cheese (sans mustard and onions). I’m going to be honest here, the whole experience was quite a
stressful one and my respect for McDonald’s staff has risen exponentially as a result. The pace in the kitchen is incredibly fast and turnaround is equally so. I felt completely in the way and found myself apologising at every opportunity! After a very thorough hand-wash, I was able to get stuck in and make my burger. I started off by putting the patties on the grill and pressing them down with a very scary looking piece of equipment. After what felt like the blink of an eye, the burgers were cooked and I transferred them over to a tray for transport to the next ‘station.’ I learnt that in the McDonald’s kitchen, everyone has a different job to do – this definitely speeds up production and makes it possible to give the customer their food in their target time. I chose my toppings (a dollop of the red stuff) and toasted my buns, evenly on both sides, in the biggest toaster I’ve ever seen. Next, I was directed over to the fries station where, salted carefully, I directed my fries into the holder with expert (HA!) precision. I finished off by making myself a Mango and Pineapple smoothie, before settling down back in the restaurant to enjoy my creation. Did it taste good? It did. Could I master that and do it on a daily basis? Probably not. Hats (and hair-nets!) off to the amazing staff who do that day-in, day-out. I salute you.
One of the main improvements that the restaurant has undergone in the last few months is one that you’ve probably, as McDonalds customers, already familiarised yourself with: those fancy-dancy kiosks. The kiosks allow for an entirely improved customer experience: not only can you customise your order to ensure you get your meal exactly as you want it, but you can also easily access all of the nutritional information about every dish that they have available for you to purchase. I’ve also found, personally, that I’ve chosen things that I wouldn’t normally have ordered- there’s always that feeling of panic when you go to the counter to order food- you forget everything you were going to say and just order your usual, if you’re anything like me! McDonalds have also introduced a table service option when using the kiosks- select a ‘zone’ and have your food delivered to you in pretty much the time it takes for you to sit down! They’ve also added child-friendly tablets to the tables, making McDonald’s into a place where adults and children alike can pass time and be productive. There are games available for the little ones to occupy themselves with whilst you have a coffee, as well as all the usual apps available for adults to use whilst they’re devouring their meal.
I think it’s safe to say that my experience at McDonalds was an absolutely fantastic one and I am over the moon to have been invited to be part of such an opportunity! Thanks to McDonalds, to Diane and to Mark for the invitation. I look forward to all of the other amazing, innovative and exciting things that McDonald’s will introduce in the future!