In a very short time, this restaurant has transformed into one of the most innovative and modern restaurants in the U.S.
I'm speaking, of course, about McDonald's.
But it's the store's most recent transformation that is sure to change the future of fast food: the placing of self-serve kiosks in every McDonald's store in the U.S.
In a matter of months, customers will be able to go to any McDonald's around the country and order directly from one of these kiosks, after which they can then pick up their food at a counter or wait on an employee to bring the meal directly to the table. In fact, the company will be adding the kiosks to 1,000 U.S. restaurants per quarter--an average of over 10 per day.
"It's a dramatic change," McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook told CNBC in a recent interview.
Easterbrook claims the kiosks, which are already in about 50% of U.S. stores, work well on numerous levels. "If people want to just dwell, have a little bit more time, they can go to a self-order kiosk, they can browse through the menu...they can start to see the broader ranges perhaps or they may want to customize the food they've got," explained Easterbrook. He also highlighted the ease of paying with credit or debit cards via the kiosk.
When people have more time to dwell, said Easterbrook, they tend to buy more, boosting the average spend per purchase.
Why these kiosks are a game-changer
There's a reason these kiosks are so successful; the new tech is really only the surface. What McDonald's is really doing is reaching people on an emotional level.
Above all, McDonald's is in the convenience business. People eat there because they don't have time (or desire) to cook, and they want a solution that won't break the bank.
That's why these changes are generally so well-received by consumers, and why I think it will forever change the landscape of fast food. Gen-Xers, millennials, and successive generations are already used to a computer interface for making most of their daily choices, so a self-serve kiosk (or mobile app) feels native and intuitive.
In other words, kiosks like this are welcome because they provide people with the level of comfort and convenience they're seeking when they resort to fast food.
The free WiFi offered in most stores further adds to this. And if you're going to stick around, you want to feel good about your environment--one reason why the company is working to modernize the look of its restaurants, especially in the U.S. where they had become "a little bit tired looking," according to Easterbrook.
Of course, if you prefer a more classic method of ordering, you can still do that too...for now.
It will be interesting to see if competitors adopt a similar approach. My instinct tells me they will--and sooner rather than later.
After all, in many ways the future is already here.
Who would've guessed McDonald's would help deliver it?