McDonald’s Australia has decided to offer table service and, upon returning from an excursion to their trial restaurant, I can muster just four words:
The end is nigh.
Feeling threatened by the mass migration of smoothies in mason jars from Surry Hills cafes into the hands of plebs, McDonald’s has decided that the way to win the public back is to beat the hipsters at their own game.
Armed with waitstaff (read: regular staff who are allowed to leave the counter on occasions other than when a child has vomited), rustic fry baskets (read: ornamental aluminium contraptions that would disintegrate if they were ever submerged into Maccas’ vat) and a new range of DIY burger options (read: the ability to put aioli on a beef burger), the fast food giant has decided to go up-market.
The Australian trial restaurant is Castle Hill McDonald’s.* I could make a remark about how this launch location has cornered the cashed-up bogan market, but I won’t.
As I order, it becomes apparent that McDonald’s might be the country’s only workplace where computers cost more to run than humans. You pay for the privilege of using this new technology. If a 14-year-old McSlave wanted to eat a burger and chips on their lunch break, it would total two hours worth of wages.
(I hope that the drug trade out the back of Castle Hill Maccas is as thriving as it was when my pimply teen self worked the Drive Thru. Something’s gotta fund that aioli.)
The process seems relatively straightforward. You place your order on a touch screen machine. The machine then spits out a ticket with a number on it, which you display on your table. If you want to enjoy Maccas’ new ‘fancy’ presentation (a wooden board lined with a piece of fake newspaper, accompanied by chips in a fry basket) you need to order one of the new DIY burgers, although you can order anything off the menu and they will bring it out to you on a regular tray.
So, basically, if you’re ordering anything other than one of the new fancy burgers (which are only beef burgers, stupid chicken-ist Maccas) the whole experience is just like waiting for your food after being parked in a Drive Thru bay. Except you have to get out of your pyjamas.
Unfortunately, the opposite of fast food is slow food, and that is what this system produces. There are huge queues out the front of the two machines, while the cashiers sit idle a few metres away. I visit the restaurant (which is packed, see Castle Hill gag in paragraph five) with a group and, of the eight items we paid for, three don’t arrive. Half an hour passes between us walking through the front door and all receiving our food.
It’s a McDisaster, and I suppose the question you have to ask is: why?
Because, I don’t think anyone really goes to McDonald’s looking for a gourmet experience. I mean, I am a proud patron of Castle Hill McDonald’s, but almost exclusively while inebriated, or in a netball uniform, or both. Unfortunately this (reportedly) $1 billion global shift from good, clean – in that it is wiped down every half hour, not in that it warrants #cleaneating – fun towards high-cholesterol chaos is trying to create a new market for McDonald’s, while ignoring us slobs who keep it profitable in the first place.
And we’re not lovin’ it.
*The one on Showground Rd. Every outer-suburban postcode should have two Maccas, amirite? #hillslyf #iactuallyonlygetabylinewhenimentionthatimfromthehills