Meet You at the McShuttle. . . Not!

Have you ordered your "two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun" from the 'new' McDonald's yet? I have, and it was great, but . . .

Well, it opened! Did you get a McDonald's sandwich per week for a year?  I forgot to wake up early so I could get in line last Thursday so that I could be one of the first 100 people in the McDonald's that used to be the McShuttle McDonald's.  Then I found out that kids had been camping out since Wednesday night!  Never mind!  So I headed to Gino's on Friday night to check it out.  Lines out the building, down to the end of the building, and we turned around to go to McDonald's for their second night of business as the new McDonald's.  Except there was that blackout in the Parkville area; McDonald's had to lock their doors til the electricity went back on.

On Saturday, I again tried to get lunch at Gino's, again turned around because I refuse to stand in long lines for a fast food lunch, and once again turned into the McDonald's parking lot for a meal with my husband.  The first thing that struck me was that there were TWO lanes for drive through, but the building was sooooo much smaller than the old building!

We went in and the first thing I heard was this young woman yelling, "I can help you!  Can I take your order?"  I demurred as did my husband, we weren't exactly sure what we wanted to order, so we hung back.  "I can help you! Can I take your order?"  She yelled again, looking at me.  I shook my head, while another cashier raised her hand and yelled out the same thing.  So we walked around to the eating area for a moment, took a look around and admired all the balloons and festive-looking atmosphere.  We chose a seat, and my husband went to order.  It took him forever.  He had to show his receipt to show that they hadn't filled his order 5 minutes after having paid. 

As we ate, we looked around, amazed at the lack of seating, and the sheer smallness of the new McDonald's. Of course, there was no play place, so all the children were concentrated in the main eating area.  There were 4 large seating areas in the middle of the restaurant, with a few 2-seat tables in the center as well. Along side of the window facing the parking lot and Jiffy Lube there is bar-stool seating, and along the windows facing Joppa Road are very nice high two-seater tables with new no-back high seats.  Along-side of the drink machine, is a row of seats where singles can sit and eat as well as two-party groups.  The way I saw it, there was seating for maybe 24 people in the center 4 tables with round seats.  Another 8 seat along the parking lot window, another 10 between the main seating area and the drink station and then another 8 in the front window.  An additional 8 or ten in the main seating area in two-seat tables.  That's only 58 people.  The McShuttle McDonald's had seating for 58 folks in the front part of the restaurant, and an additional maybe 20-24 in the back section, not to mention the 8-12 that could be accomodated in the play place. 

It seems that McDonald's is down-sizing in terms of seating areas when it rennovates its facilities.  Our McShuttle is not a franchised store, it is a corporate one.  I tried to speak with the manager, but he was fairly busy, I felt uncomfortable trying to ask him questions, besides which he barely had a moment to breath, because he was busy making sure customers were happy. I was able to speak with a gentleman that the corporate office had sent to our McDonald's to make sure that opening week could run smoothly.  He said that he wasn't sure why the McDonald's was smaller physically, but we could call the corporate office in Baltimore to find out.  I've left a message, and when someone calls me back, I'll let you know what the corporate office had to say with regards to the questions I pose here. 

I guess I have at least a couple of questions.  This McDonald's will be open 24-7 both in drive through and eat-in service.  Was it important to make more room for a double-laned drive through, and cut down inside size?  Why is that?  Older folks love to come in to McDonald's and have breakfast and read a paper while relaxing. With all the high seating, and high tables and complete lack of booths, it makes it difficult for these members of our community to eat at this McDonald's and relax. 

Trying to order a meal and wait for it is difficult even on the third day of operation at this McDonald's.  My husband had to remind the workers that our order hadn't been filled 5 minutes after he paid for it.  It wasn't difficult, a #1 and #4 meal, both with sodas, no alterations to the sandwiches.  When I went up to buy an apple pie, and a latte for desert, I couldn't buy just one apple pie.  The cashier didn't know how to ring that up - they were keyed in at two for a dollar.  The debit swipe machine didn't show the total, nor did it show the "sale approved" message, and the cashier had no tape (all day) at this register, so she couldn't give me a receipt, proof that I paid, or something with which to remind folks that I had paid for something and was waiting.  I won't know if I got charged for my apple pie(s) and latte or not until Monday after all weekend transactions post to my account online.  Why are there problems on day 3 with cash registers, and production line service?

There are 4 cash registers, and no line.  There is milling around, and eager cashiers who are quite willing to help take your order. "I can help you, can I take your order?"  There is no designated place to stand while waiting for your order to delineate you from customers waiting to order.  I don't want to force any one corporation to act like another, but there are other fast food organizations out there that structure their ordering area such that there is a forced line built with either fancy ropes or indoor line-fencing material so that everyone knows who is next and who has already ordered.  It seems like McDonald's would recognize that given our demographics (high in teens and high in the elderly), such a structure would be helpful in this re-design of our McDonald's.  Why must McDonald's go with the cattle-type milling around for their customers who wish to order rather than assist them in getting to the cash register in a civilized and organized fashion?

The workers were pleasant, helpful and cheerful.  They were overwhelmed, even at 2:30 p.m.  They worked together, without visible squabbles, and worked hard to keep their customers happy.  They came out to clear tables and empty trash barrels, refill staw dispensers, and wipe up soda spills.  The bathrooms remained clean despite the inordinate amount of people in the eating area, but the workers remained overwwhelmed.  You could see it in their excited, but weary eyes.

I'm glad McDonald's re-opened, and hired a bunch of people in the Parkville area.  I am thrilled that some of the teenagers who go to school in the high school where I work got jobs in it.  I am thrilled that McDonald's deemed Parkville stable enough to support it's restaurant!  Are you glad that McDonald's re-opened here in Parkville?  What McShuttle memories do you have?  Do you remember bringing your toddlers to play in the McShuttle while catching 5 minutes of quiet with a cup of McDonald's coffee?   What are your impressions of the new McDonald's?  How do you feel now that it has re-opened? Let me know what you think in the comments section below!  I welcome comments both from customers, non-customers and corporate McDonald's!


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