Sunday, February 27, 2005
The McChronicles team took advantage of a sunny, warm February Sunday and toured what is known as "The Valley". "The Valley" is generally considered a subset of the Mohawk Valley and includes the communities along the Mohawk River, between Utica and St. Johnsville.
First stop, Ilion, NY.
Quality: Unacceptable (a very rare case where food was returned for replacement)
Service: Online Time - 0.50 minutes, Order Wait - 1.00 minutes (no one else online)
Cleanliness: floor unswept, several unclean tables
There was a kid's birthday party roaring in the Play Place - it brought back great memories for all of us. With plenty of staff standing around, we waited at the counter for 30 seconds before anyone would speak to us. It was really frustrating as it was obvious that 2 guys were chatting, two girls were chatting, and one girl was at the end of the counter flirting with some civilian guy (in street clothes).
When we got the food to our table, the hamburger was extremely overcooked (hard and black). As embarrassing and inconvenient as it is, we HAD to return it for replacement. This is almost never done by the McChronicles team, so it was a big deal to us. Imagine the hassle if we had a kid or two in high chairs!
After about 10 minutes of eating and enjoying the party, we picked up and left. You guessed it, the girl was still flirting with the dude at the counter. This is really unprofessional - we wondered if there was any adult supervision in the store. Unfortunately, it wasn't the most heinous employee crime of the day. Read on for that coverage.
Quality: Poor (crushed and misshaped sandwich, really bad wrapping/preparation)
Service: Online Time - 0.25 minutes, Order Wait - 1.75 minutes: Yes, 1.75 minutes for a burger - with no one else online!
Cleanliness: muddy floor, really unclean details
The old Herkimer location (we are going back many, many years) was our favorite. It had awesome consistency. The new location is far superior, but quality is falling. We will repeat ourselves (see below): Would a person accept a pair of Nike sneakers if the insole was smeared all over the shoe? Why is it OK for McDonald's to offer this? It isn't.
Quality: Great (Apple Dippers are awesome!)
Service: Online Time - 0.00 minutes, Order Wait - 0.00 minutes
Cleanliness: floor unswept, several unclean tables
We were stunned to see (upon entering the store) a McDonald's employee (apparently a manager, based on dress) eating a full Subway meal which was spread out over two tables - right in front of the order area. We got the message! The McChronicles was extremely eager to grab a photo of this scene, but we just didn't have the heart (and we feared it could get the woman fired).
And, did you know that over 50,000 apples per day are needed to keep up with the Apple Dippers demand for the US eastern seaboard alone? Read more.
THEME: none noted
This restaurant was really clean! And the staff looked great. Since the Schuyler rest area building is relatively small, this McDonald's seems to "own" the place (once a person gets indoors). The McChronicles felt great vibes here.
Saturday, February 26, 2005
McChronicles fan "Scott" submitted this drive-by shot (no doubt taken with his DANGER Hip Top) of the South Utica (Genesee St.) restaurant. He rates it "unique" due to the cool fish tank that sits in the middle of the dining room.
We do have an eclectic collection of McDonald's decors in the Utica area.
Sunday, February 20, 2005
STOP 1: Rome, NY's Black River Boulevard McDonald's. Awesome interior!
Rome's Black River Boulevard (Route 46) earned top praise for its decor.
The sample girl was awesome! Very cheery. The decor was awesome, but the floor was quite dirty. One way we judge the floor is (in the slushy winter season) to look for wetness. If the floor is wet and muddy, it was juist tracked in. If the floor is dirty and dry, then it has had time to dry. This floor was dry - neglected. What a contrast to the incredible, library-like setting.
Online Time: 0.50 minuites Order Wait: 1.50 minutes Quality: Good
This store has an interesting "metal works" theme and a traditional Play Place. We had to BEG for the FREE Chicken Selects. Once we got the girl to serve one of us, she totally disappeared (to the mild amazement of her coworkers who were asked to finish our sampling).
We never like seeing a worker dressed inappropriately. In this case, there was a person cooking - wearing a sweat suit. No good.
Saturday, February 19, 2005
The McChronicles dropped in to the Yorkville, NY store for a quick lunch and to see how day 3 of the FREE Chicken Selects was going.
Chicken Selects (Day 3):
The same young lady from day 1 was on duty - still as chipper as ever. The food was great.
We remain extremely disappointed that it takes so long to purchase one hamburger. As we review our recent transaction history (and as we recall the previous experiences that inspired The McChronicles) it is this precise issue that disappoints. After today's order (one hamburger, one small Coke) was placed, we got McShuffled and had to wait 2 minutes - for a hamburger.
Point of Improvement: Fast food needs to be FAST.
Friday, February 18, 2005
Bizarre thoughts of Barbie and Ken come to mind when the concept of Ronald AND a MISS McDonald come together. Our guess, based on info in her blog profile, is that she is a fan in the Philippines who has gone a bit too far. This HAS to be a crime.
Thanks to our friends at the FastFoodWeblog in the Netherlands for making us aware of this.
Maybe no one really cares about customer feedback. We hope not. After all, we're out here, we want McDonald's to be awesome, and we're offering up suggestions.
This Play Place is unlike any we've ever seen before (not that we've seen them all). The "pit" concept lets parents keep an eye on the action at a safe distance. We've seen many a birthday party in this room in our days.
Online: 2.25 minutes Order Wait: 2.25 minutes Quality: Very Good
The McChronicles hit the Washington Mills McDonald's at 1:30PM today to look the store over and to see how Day 2 of the Free Chicken Selects program was playing out there. It was good.
The cramped line area was clearly the domain of the sample woman. She had the same set up as the girl did yesterday (in Yorkville) - but was much busier and had no time to talk. She was working it. When I (and a few others declined the sample) she offered a "buy 1 get 1"-type of coupon - nice.
The store feels cramped in the line/order area. The dining room is fine. The big "thing" about this store is that it has a Play Place - but not a typical version. This one looks more like a game arcade. Kids seem to love it.
Point of improvement: keep the floors clean.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Today was the first day of McDonald's FREE Chicken Selects give-away. We were very interested to see how it was going to play out (and how the product tastes since I had never tasted it before).
We dropped by the Yorkville, NY restaurant and entered the store wondering just how this was all going to go down. Would we have to BEG for the free sample? Would the workers know of the program? Would we have to buy something to get something for free?
As we opened the door, even before one foot hit the floor, we were greeted by an awesomely-friendly young lady who said, "Welcome to McDonald's, sir. Would you like to try a free Chicken Selects?" She was holding a tray of chicken (in small packets) and a full assortment of dipping sauces. We were stunned! This was incredible. We really loved the whole scenario - and it got better.
We sat right next to where she was standing and she started casually telling us things about the product. For example, she told us what it was made from, and about the various ways we could purchase a regular order - even offering the prices from a hand-written sheet she had prepared.
We asked her a few questions and she said she was the only person "on duty" giving the samples, so she knew that everyone who tried them really liked them. She seemed proud. What a great ambassador!
We will try to check into another restaurant tomorrow and see how they compare.
I am always wary of even entering public rest rooms. They are often pretty scary places. They can be dirty, messy, and disfunctional. The Yorkville, NY men's room looked "fair" today, but it could really use some improvements. The biggest problem was that the soap dispenser isn't quite working properly. The McChronicles would love to see a clean (and well-maintained) new sink with a faucet that doesn't force a person to have to touch the sink walls to get their hands wet.
According to the McDonald's website: "Ray Kroc opened the Des Plaines restaurant in 1955. " So, am I the only one wondering 'where's the party?'.
Now, we all know that McDonald's is celebrating by building a new restaurant in Chicago. But what about the rest of us who can't make it to the grand opening?
As an avid fan and "customer evangelist" I would LOVE to see a Worldwide 50th Anniversary Party - celebrated at every store. It could last one month (April - the month Ray Kroc founded the company) and feature all sorts of retro, as well as exciting new, stuff (ads, food, goodies, prizes, etc.). Heck, I'm thrilled about the free chicken selects being given out these next few days (see previous post). Imagine how amped McDonald's fans would be about a full-blown Golden Anniversary for the Golden Arches (it all falls into place so easily, doesn't it?).
I'll be really disappointed if there isn't some kind of fete.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
According to the February 15th, 2005 edition of the OD's "Career Builder" insert magazine, "Timothy Fenton, a native Utican, has been named president of McDonald's Asia, Pacific, Middle East, and Africa".
When I went online to make a link for this posting, all I could find was a story about him from 2003. I hope you have better luck than I did searching for it on the OD's website.
You can read the official McDonald's bio on Tim, too.
I diligently completed the form, pushed "Submit" and was surprised to be informed that, though they were thankful for my "thoughtful input", they were not really accepting it.
What a disappointment - something so potentially good plays out to be much less than offered, or what I had hoped it would be. Kind of a metaphor for my recent experiences at McDonald's.
I'll check back soon to see if this gets straightened out. Why don't you attempt to rate your next experience at: feedback.mcdonalds.com (that's all you need to type into your browser).
The Riverside Center Wal Mart McDonald's in North Utica is one of the "strangest" McD's in our region. It is strange because it is new (Wal Mart just remodeled into a Super Center), it is small, and it is contained within another company's business.
The McChronicles' first reaction during this visit was that the bank of vending machines in Wal Mart, just outside McDonald's detracted from the view and image of the store. Additionally, the unruly melee of abandoned Wal Mart shopping carts strewn across the McDonald's entrance really made a bad impression (they lined the Wal Mart shoppers' paths of ingress and egress). Even with really good food, the total experience was poor. I just didn't feel the excitement and energy that McDonald's seeks to deliver, and that I yearn for each visit.
Even with no other customer to be found, and even when I ordered an extremely simple "two hamburgers and a medium Coke", I was McShuffled (see earlier posting) and had to wait one and one-half minutes for my food after I placed my order. Finally, the hamburger wrapper exteriors were smeared with the usual light coating of grease. I could understand the mess if the burgers were flying through the kitchen at breakneck speed. But, after a 90-second wait, I would have guessed the burgers would be gift-wrapped!
In short, don't expect anything but bare-bones utilitarianism from a Wal Mart-contained McDonald's. And it looks like the greasy wrappers are just a fact of life. My rare Upstate New York winter sunny day was marred by the dark clouds of disappointment.
Monday, February 14, 2005
From the site: "McDonald's Corporation held onto the patch of property west of Chicago where franchise Store #1 once stood; Ray Kroc first opened for business there on April 15, 1955. It was demolished and replaced in 1984 by a modern McD's, still in operation. The company's PR big wigs finally realized they had a history to preserve, so they constructed a complete replica of Store #1 right across the street in Des Plaines." Check it out.
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Saturday, February 12, 2005
My high school son and I were out driving and we swung through the Route 5 New Hartford drive-thru. McDonald's is having the same "issue" repeatedly: it takes a really long time to deliver food after an order is placed.
Didn't they recently invest a huge amount of money to speed things up? Hasn't anyone considered planting a few 19-year-olds at Wendy's to figure out how they get my food ready before I have time to put my change in my pocket?
Working in front of an unsightly backdrop including a waste bin, a broom, packing supplies, a 5-gallon juice jug, and other paraphenalia, the young man who served our food was very polite, calling me "sir". Great kid. I like it when people are polite and respectful. I guess that most of us feel the same way (hint).
I wasn't hungry but I dropped into the Mohawk St., Utica, NY McDonald's after visiting some friends in East Utica. The site is one of my old stomping grounds as I lived near the restaurant while going to college. You can imagine the types of memories made at that time in my life. There have been numerous changes to the site over the past many years.
A quick walk-through revealed a clean and tidy dining room, with a supervisor working on making things even cleaner. The whole store has a slightly-tired but nice feel to it.
Stefan and Kenny provided what I feel is a balanced and mature review of the situation on the Armchair Media site.
Two main issues come to my mind:
1. it would be criminal for McDonald’s to NOT attempt to promote themselves in a manner that suits their product, market niche, and customers.
2. there is an extreme level of criticality towards McDonald’s
The result seems to be that most everything the company does is ravaged by the critical elite.
Commercial: As I said in The McChronicles, “Personally, I thought it was a weak to average ad (like most of the Super Bowl offerings). Nothing that would generate ad buzz. But it sure seems to have generated something.”. From today’s perspective, this quirky campaign has touched off a minor buzz, as supported by all the postings, Google hits, Yahoo auction bids, and media commentary. Still, I revert to my original reaction: Was the commercial strong enough to solicit consumer action? I am still betting that it will turn out to have been a relatively weak execution of a classic good idea. It seems that the only people getting really excited are the critics.
Website (including Yahoo Auction strategy):
www.McDonalds.com: (USA site): At this viewing some links are broken. Several “this page can not be displayed” notices are appearing in the “Get Shopping” section. This is always a no-no. Their efforts to reach out to EVERYONE (ethnicities, age groups, and every other “demographic” that could possibly be divined) is a Herculean task. For a company of their size, it is something they must do to wring out marginal market share (very tough when you are already so pervasive). But it seems that this puts them on a slippery slope. The law of diminishing returns kicks in. It is extremely tough to achieve success in this arena. And, in the end, it comes down to two issues:
• personal style (of the people/person in charge of the website)
• ROI: are their efforts in this medium yielding positive results?
The Yahoo Auction: Great idea, but I smell a rat – and I hate to think there is a rat anywhere in this machine. When I first checked the auction’s bid history, the amount was low and all looked well. Next, I noticed the bidding had exceeded $100,000 but that the bidding history was stuck on February 8th. A little later the bidding date issue appeared to be reconciled, but the bid amount had fallen to $30,000. In this day and age, any appearance of hanky-panky reflects poorly on an organization as professional as McDonald’s. Something is clearly askance and it should be investigated and reported on.
Auctioning the prop and giving the money to a charity (The Ronald McDonald House is a great organization) is an awesome idea.
Blog: As you will recall, our AMA class and expert panel was divided on the issue of blogs by/from/for fictitious people/events. Sex in the City’s "Vote Carrie" blog was the example we reviewed. You, Toby, know much more about this than I do, having covered it on your site quite well. My take is that blog purists rail at the concept of a fictitious person blogging. But, face it, blogs are expressions, blogs are journals, blogs are news, blogs are diaries, blogs are records, and blogs are ads. Nobody “owns” blogs, and there is no true definition with which to comply. Blogs are living permutations of things that have been, and of things that are developing. It is precisely the way we bloggers evolve our blogging that creates the new state of the art. In short, there can be no such thing as a “blogging purist” since blogs can not be purely defined.
So, the age-old caveat emptor applies. Everyone should grow up and let things go. Isn’t that what the internet is all about?
Thanks for asking,
The AMA is staging a series of awesome seminars on blogging, if you're interested. Organized by Toby Bloomberg, these events are really helpful - and they put you face-to-face with some of the world's leaders in the practice. Highly recommended.
Friday, February 11, 2005
No one was on line when I entered - I was waited on immediately. I placed my simple order and had to wait for 2.5 minutes. Only two other customers ordered behind me. I wonder why it took so darn long?
Then the fun started. I self-served my soda and tried to grab a few napkins. The napkin dispenser was filled so full that the napkins were completely jammed. Every time I tried to pull one out, the dispenser drawer fell out and the napkin ripped. Next I tried to grab a cover for my drink. Not being an expert in McDonald's cup size nomenclature, I wasn't at all sure if I was holding a "12" or a "16/21" or a "32" or a "32 cold" cup. I imagine trained employees know the system, but I don't, so I tried a few tops until I found the proper size. I wondered who had handled my lid before I got there.
The floor was grubby (well after the lunch rush, ~2PM) and I had to step around an abandoned but full mop bucket as I navigated the dining room.
This site, on Utica's main drag, Genesee Street, just off the New York State Thruway exit 31, was really exciting when it opened. It looks like a '60s-era McDonald's and they've decorated it to the retro-hilt. In the summer there is even a faux old hot rod out front. A friend and I brought our families to the opening celebration. At the time we guessed that some of the shoddy decoration details (like using pushpins to temporarily hold the 45 records to the wall) were only temporary, due to the grand opening rush. After two years it appears that this place is just slightly shoddy. So darned close to awesome but it just misses. I will say that the neon signs, old chairs, tables, and other decor items are really cool. It is the most unique McD's in the region.
Thursday, February 10, 2005
After all that brain-wracking we found that McDonald's and MapPoint offer a tool to help you locate the McDonald's in a certain area. You just type in the locale and a map is made in seconds.
When we plugged our ZIP code into the MapPoint tool we were stunned to learn that there are 40 McDonald's within 50 miles of our house. Awesome!
Check out your McDensity (try to list them first - just for fun). If you can beat us, put your McDensity in the comments.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
Online: 2.00 minutes Order Wait: 0.75 minutes Quality: Very Good
The Yorkville, NY (Route 5A) McDonald's is, in my opinion, the worst of the Utica-area restaurants. It epitomizes much of what breaks my heart about McD's. And that is the topic of today's McChronicles.
- Issue #1: With only one person in line in front of me, I still had to wait 2 minutes to place my order. I wondered why they wouldn't open a second register, but not for long.
- Issue #2: Someone in the back yelled forward, inquiring about the whereabouts of the person missing from register duty. The woman running the sole register yelled back that the girl was in the bathroom. She added that she hoped she hadn't fallen in. Now, I'm really hungry! And in the mood.
- Issue #3: Front end people felt they had to yell, "Helloooo!" to the people in the back to get their attention.
- Issue #4: After I sat down, I watched as 6 people backed up at the lone register while two front end people debated some topic - while not moving things along. What a show!
- Issue #5: A trainee was following an employee around "learning" how to wipe down tables. With their backsides inches from my face I had to endure the lame explanation of how to properly wipe a table top. Free Advice: Don't hire people who don't already know how to wield a dish cloth. Oh yes, and please don't put your backside in my face while I am trying to eat.
The order came up fast and the food was great. And the whole experience was quite poor.
Special Note: This site has a great PlayPlace. It looks very clean and seems to be busy every time I go there.
During this visit, the dining room was cleaner than usual. A trend in my McCommunity lately.
- ► 2009 (16)
- ► 2008 (55)
- ► 2007 (70)
- ► 2006 (114)
- 4-Stop Valley Tour
- Stop #2: Herkimer, NY Quality: Poor (crushed and ...
- We really hated seeing the grubby floor and trim a...
- Stop #3: Little Falls, NY Quality: Great (Apple D...
- The McChronicles took this opportunity to check ou...
- Last Stop (#4): NYS Thruway Schuyler Rest Area CL...
- Something is Fishy!
- Rome New York McDonald's Tour
- This store looks great inside. It earned our "best...
- The rich-appearing woodwork, coupled with the hist...
- Just awesome.
- Stop 2:
- Where the heck is it?
- Extensive signage is required to guide us to the M...
- The Rome Wal Mart McDonald's was a real disappoint...
- Stop 3:
- Speed It Up Yorkville!
- Lincoln Fry Finds A Home
- Miss McDonald?
- EXTREME DISAPPOINTMENT
- Washington Mills, NY McDonald's: Cool Play Place ...
- Day 2: Free Chicken Selects
- Free Chicken Selects Program
- Cleanliness & Functionality
- Golden Arches: Golden Anniversary
- Local Boy Does Good
- The Utica Observer Dispatch (our paper) just print...
- DISAPPOINTMENT IN THE MAKING:
- 2) The McChronicles is Ready to Submit the Form .....
- 3) Heartbreak!
- McChronicles Hits The Wal (Mart): exterior of Utic...
- The McChronicles Grabs an Image of the interior of...
- McChronicles Hits The Wal (Mart)
- McDonald's Museum & Store #1: I'd love to visit. ...
- McDonald's Museum & Store #1
- A Self-Driven Man
- Behind the wheel - finally.
- McScursion 2: The theater-themed Times Square rest...
- McScursion 3: an awesome bank of flat-panel LCDs g...
- Drive-Thru View
- Drive-Thru Experience
- Mohawk Street McDonald's: East Utica, NY
- Mohawk St.: The McChronicles says "Nice!"
- The McChronicles Weighs In (again) on the Lincoln ...
- A "Customer Evangelist"? Guess I Am!
- North Utica "Old School" Restaurant
- Utica's Old School McDonald's
- What's YOUR McDensity?
- Home-made Map of all the McDonald's in the Utica A...
- Yorkville, NY Restaurant
- The McChronicles Are NOT Lovin' It
- 15 Minutes of Fame: The Lincoln Fry
- Lincoln Fry Ad Image Grab
- Lincoln Fry
- A Nod From Above
- New Hartford, NY Restaurant
- I like the bistro feel.
- New Interior Decor: Snazzy!
- Excellent Taste
- Super Fast Service Here
- Super Fast!
- New Hartford, NY's Sangertown Square McDonald's. J...
- The McShuffle
- ▼ February (67)