The location takes advantage of ordering and delivery technologies to elevate the guest experience, mixing digital and human assistance like speedy kiosk selection and table service to build McDonald's "Experience of the Future"

A new multi-story branch of the Golden Arches has opened in New York City's Times Square. The flagship location occupies a prime spot on the corner of 45th St and 7th Ave in what used to be part of the former Toys-R-Us store. PSFK attended a media preview walkthrough a few days before the late May 2019 public grand opening.

The TS flagship is part of McDonalds Experience of the Future (EOTF) initiative that began in 2016. The project encompasses design and technology updates that improve the experience and convenience of both existing and new restaurant locations. McDonalds is a global company with American roots, and Michael Gonda, VP Global Communications explained to PSFK at the event how that is influencing the transformation currently underway:

“Experience of the Future was an idea born out of what we've been developing in the U.K.”, said Gonda. “We have currently in the U.S. converted about 4,500 restaurants that include design elements like you're seeing here. At the pace we launched in 2016, we're converting about 10 restaurants every single day. Eight thousand restaurants have been transformed. If you're a U.S. consumer, you've got about a 60% chance of walking into a modernized restaurant. Our goal is to complete EOTF by 2022, where every restaurant in the U.S. will undergo this renovation.”

The TS site presented a number of design challenges, the biggest of which was managing the sheer volume of people expected to visit the restaurant to order a meal. Also, the interior space is spread across three floors. The necessity to have both a staircase and elevator meant that no guest seating would fit on the ground floor. That created an issue with how to efficiently get people their orders without having them carry their food upstairs themselves.

McDonalds spun these issues into opportunities for a more hospitality-inspired guest experience. We'll look at a few elements designed to improve convenience and make the dining experience more relaxed and enjoyable.

Andrew Meredith/Courtesy McDonald's

ORDER KIOSKS

Taking the place of the once-familiar order counter and menu boards are double-sided touch screen kiosks, there are 21 points to place an order within the TS flagship including a small traditional counter staffed by two McDonalds employees. McDonalds expects the bulk of the ordering will be done through the kiosks which also handle payment. While the kiosk ordering sacrifices some of the human interaction of the previous counter format, they do improve order accuracy and speed. McDonalds also staffs the kiosk area with Guest Experience Leaders (GELs) who can assist anyone needing help with the interface.

Andrew Meredith/Courtesy McDonald's

TABLE SERVICE

For people choosing to dine-in, carrying a tray of food and hunting for a seat is a thing of the past. Each person who orders gets a plastic table tent number embedded with a RFID chip. The interior of the restaurant is mapped into several zones. Runner staff get alerted to where a guest is seated once their order is ready and the food is delivered to them.

Andrew Meredith/Courtesy McDonald's

DELIVERY ELEVATOR

To get orders from the ground floor kitchen to the upper two dining floors, a special delivery elevator was installed. Staff on each of the floors are alerted to both when an order is coming up to them and to the zone location a guest is seated in.

Andrew Meredith/Courtesy McDonald's

BEST TABLE IN TIMES SQUARE

This isn't something any of the McDonalds representatives pointed out, but the lone four-seat table in the corner surrounded by glass on the second floor is going to be the most sought after. Those who can snag it will be able to peacefully dine with a panoramic view of the perpetual chaos that is Times Square below.

Andrew Meredith/Courtesy McDonald's

OVERALL DESIGN

Rather than try and compete with the visual overload of Times Square, the McDonalds flagship adopts a low-key aesthetic. The interior is a version of a theme called ‘Ray,' one of nine aesthetic directions being rolled out as part of EOTF. You can get a look at the others in this Global Interiors Portfolio.

Andrew Meredith/Courtesy McDonald's

The feature design element in the space is the staircase in signature McDonalds yellow. The rest of the interior has a spare, modern and slightly industrial vibe.

Andrew Meredith/Courtesy McDonald's

The third floor has the lowest ceiling, fitted with perforated wood panels to help absorb sound. There's a lack of visually impending elements in the space to keep the sight lines out the windows as open as possible.

DESIGN PERSPECTIVE

While this flagship isn't comparable to say a Starbucks vs Starbucks Roastery in terms of hospitality, McDonald's likely had to account  for guest volume and attempted to strike a functional balance. Finally, while the interior doesn't necessarily embrace a Times Square theme as it could have, perhaps there was a purposeful choice to go against the aesthetic crowded New York area and simply maintain its standard brand image.

McDonalds


Lead image: Andrew Meredith/Courtesy McDonald's

A new multi-story branch of the Golden Arches has opened in New York City's Times Square. The flagship location occupies a prime spot on the corner of 45th St and 7th Ave in what used to be part of the former Toys-R-Us store. PSFK attended a media preview walkthrough a few days before the late May 2019 public grand opening.

The TS flagship is part of McDonalds Experience of the Future (EOTF) initiative that began in 2016. The project encompasses design and technology updates that improve the experience and convenience of both existing and new restaurant locations. McDonalds is a global company with American roots, and Michael Gonda, VP Global Communications explained to PSFK at the event how that is influencing the transformation currently underway: