‘McDonald’s of the Future’ opens in Green Park

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By Gloria Lloyd
Staff Reporter
news3@callnewspapers.com

The newly rebuilt McDonald’s on South Lindbergh Boulevard in Green Park reopened Thursday as the “McDonald’s of the Future.”

The distinctive red and black design of the new fast-food restaurant originated in Australia and is probably the most common design used for McDonald’s worldwide. But the Green Park location is one of the first to use it in the United States and the only one in the country to build the design with a playplace, owner-operator Nolan Ruiz told the Call at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday.

Green Park Mayor Bob Reinagel was on hand to cut the ribbon with Ruiz and his family, along with representatives of the Mehlville Fire Protection District and the St. Louis County Police Department, including Green Park Officer Jeremy Hake.

It marked the kickoff of a week of Green Park openings, as the long-awaited Fresh Thyme Farmers Market is set to open two blocks away on Wednesday, Oct. 11.

The most striking feature inside the new McDonald’s is the way customers will order. Instead of walking up to the counter, standing in line and ordering as they do at countless other McDonald’s, customers will order through a touchscreen kiosk.

The new style of ordering allows more customization and accuracy, with no orders getting lost in translation, Ruiz said.

And the kiosks are not replacing old-fashioned employees, he said. The restaurant will employ the same number of people, but employees who are not busy taking orders will be able to spend more time with customers.

“It improves customer satisfaction from the employee experience, because we’re not taking away or replacing any employees. We’re bringing them out from behind the front counter to interact with our guests at the kiosks,” Ruiz said. “There’s not fewer employees. If anything, it’s more.”

Customers who prefer the old way of ordering can have an employee place their order for them.

The drive-thru lane has expanded to two lanes from one, which should speed up ordering and shorten the line, which used to wrap around the building at peak times. Instead of a static menu board, the drive-thrus have digital menu boards to match the ones inside, which can change as prices and promotions change.

The restaurant is rolling out software that will allow customers’ orders to pop up on the actual menu screen as people order, which should ensure better accuracy, Ruiz said. That software could be activated soon and should be up and running within the next week, he said.

Customers waiting for a complicated order no longer have to pull up and have an employee go outside to bring it to them. The drive-thru has three windows, the first two for paying and pick-up and a third as a waiting spot for longer pickups.

Unlike some newer McDonald’s, the new Green Park location kept its playplace.

That was intentional because of the many young families in the area, Ruiz said.

“This is all about family, community and it was designed to have an inviting look,” Ruiz said.