Sunday 14 May 2017

Would you like fries with that ?

When Brown Bear was first born I did that whole thing where you say, 'only wooden toys,' 'organic cotton clothes for my baby,' 'homemade healthy food for my precious one,' etc. Then reality intervened as the house became filled with plastic toys, a bajillion clothes and polyester spiderman outfits and now countless happy meal toys. Homemade food is all very well, but in all honesty if I make a meal and put it in front of the boys often one of them will loudly declare, "I'm not eating that." They've not even tried it ! I can guarantee though, that if they are offered a meal at McDonalds they won't say no. In fact it's become a pretty good way to reward them for a good week at school or to get all the boys out of the house so I can do some cleaning, tidying, or just potter around.

party time !! 

The other evening I was replying to party invitations on behalf of the kids - let's face it we rarely get invited to anything any more - and a fair few of them included food from McDonalds. When I was a kid it was a big deal to have a birthday party at McDonalds, but because we didn't eat beef we never went to one. Now, of course the menu is extensive and there are plenty of choices for non beef eaters as well as improved recipes over the years to reduce salt and fat content in the meals. My boys love chicken nuggets and fries and while I don't let them have fizzy drinks they are allowed a milkshake sometimes.

There are a lot of misconceptions about McDonalds from the provenance of the ingredients to their social responsibility and working practices. Their current TV ad campaign shows how competitive their hot drinks offer is and I was amazed to find out that they outsell all the coffee shop chains now. It's hardly suprising really as the prices are competitive and with a branch right next to the station it's really easy to pop in and pick up a hot drink before or after work. I am very particular about my tea, but I do like a brew from McDonalds - they put the hot water on the teabag and not next to the cup like a deconstructed cuppa without instructions. If I wanted a DIY brew I'd go home and make it thanks.

Caffeine time 

My first ever job was in McDonalds in West Ealing and I wore a terrible brown uniform in polyster with unflattering trousers. The uniform is much better these days (see the photo for proof) so I was delighted to be invited to visit the new age of McDonalds store in Woolwich to try out my skills in the kitchen over 30 years after I first tried my hand at being a crew member. Ok, so the hairnet was an unwelcome memory, but I have to say my sons are delighted with the apron and hat I brought home. They did ask if I was working there now and it was with some sadness that I had to I wasn't.

snazzy updated uniforms 

I met a franchisee Taimoor Sheikh, area manager Martin Scott and store manager Pramesh Giri. What  really surprised me was that they are all old hands and have been with McDonalds for many years. Like a lot of people I wrongly assumed that people work there for a few years then move on, but actually the staff training at McDonalds is well regarded in the hospitality industry and offers a good grounding to anyone seeking a career in the sector. As the senior staff have worked the kitchens they know what to expect and have done the basics themselves. It's a much more sleek process now than when I was there all those years ago and the prediction software is designed to reduce food waste. Packaging is an area of ongoing improvement with a commitment to use less of it and to recycle whatever is used.

hi tech ordering systems 

The biggest overhaul of stores in decades sees a big investment in improving the customer experience including customisable meals and table service. The first time I tried the shiny new ordering screens was at a motorway service station last year during the summer holidays. We had stopped to get the boys some lunch and I had no idea how the screens worked so I bailed and went to the till point and ordered instead. Then our local store was updated and now we have the latest incarnation of McDonalds store complete with ordering screens, tablet computers for customer use and phone charging points. When the boys go for lunch with Hubbie they plant themselves in front of the tablets to play a game while Daddy orders food. With the table service it's much simpler to order and keep and eye on children which has always been an issue for me with boisterous boys who love to inspect every inch of the store. Now they have a spot where they can play on a screen and also a play area that is secure and safe. You don't have to leave them unattended and there is no extra charge for bringing food to you in your zone.

sophisticated stock management 

Another innovation is the 'made to order' burger. You specify what you do and don't want and the kitchen make it just for you. Having tried to assemble a Big Mac I now know what goes in a standard one. There are a fair few components so I'm sure there are any number of potential combinations of ingredients to suit every taste. If you are fussy or just know how you like your food you will love this capacity to make it 'just for you.'

I made this !!

While we were at the store I asked about the rumour that there will be delivery available soon and I can reveal that it is definitely on it's way, but it's not going to be everywhere overnight. For now you will have to pick it up from the stores, which is pretty cool with so many new and high tech things going on.

I got a personalised badge :) 

Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with McDonalds and I have been paid a fee.

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