Tuesday, October 24, 2006

McDonald's Receipts

The McChronicles was reviewing some paperwork in the office today and decided to toss out the McDonald's receipts we have been saving. We seem to have accumulated quite a stack so far this year - and this is only about half of the receipts we have collected.

Our estimate, based on this collection and on our calendar of events, is that we have visited McDonald's restaurants approximately 150 times so far in 2006.

That's "Lovin' it!"

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: The McChronicles.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China

Beijing's Tiananmen Square McDonald's sports a semi-cheesy "famous western people" theme - almost EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of what The McChronicles expected to see!

We were disappointed at not seeing a high-class, inspirational China theme. And we were almost (though not) stunned to see Jim Morrison, Sean Connery, and a handful of famous western actors, singers, and performers hanging on the wall. By the way, these posters seemed to be tacked on the wall in the same manner that a teenager would tack up an idol poster. Where is the class?

The counter seems to be sitting right on top of a keyboard. Cool! The dining area featured a musical theme, with musical notes and the like all over the place. This kind of threw us a bit since the rest of the place featured actors and other non-musical people (in addition to some singers).

All in all, it was nice to have a McDonald's when needed, but we expected a little bit more.

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Images: The McChronicles.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Regional McDonald's Sites II

The McChronicles posted previously about interesting regional McDonald's sites.

That posting elicited a response from Steven Wilson of great America Parks who
told us about ... McOklahoma! This site contains all the usual stuff found on other regional McDonald's sites, such as: local charities, jobs at McDonald's, national promotions, and more.

So, add this to our list:

Thanks, Steven!

The McChronicles:
a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Screen grab from McOklahoma website.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Rome, NY McDonald's: "This store's a dump!"

Hot on the heels of The McChronicles visiting some extremely impressive McDonald's comes this disappointment. We are talking about the West Gate Plaza McDonald's in Rome, NY (store #2561 on Erie Boulevard).

First off, the store was dark. Then, the service was slow. And then, it was dirty, and messy.

DARK: this store needs some replacement light bulbs or a few more fixtures. In the middle of a bright sunny day it felt like something was wrong.

SLOW SERVICE: No one was waiting in line of ahead of us.
We ordered ONE HAMBURGER. Here is what happened:

  • Online Time: 60 seconds
  • Order Wait: 4 minutes
  • Quality: good
  • Service: non-existent (the crew person didn't even speak to us)
  • Cleanliness: poor (dark, dirty, and unkempt)


Check out the images to see what we had to experience while eating at the Rome, NY West Gate McDonald's. It is obvious that the crew either has not been trained, motivated, or given the resources to keep things tidy. By the looks of things, and based on the fact that it appeared the crew had ample time to tidy up, we surmise that the crew just isn't motivated. How sad for everyone.

The problems with this McDonald's make it easy for us to drive the extra mile and hit one of the other Rome stores. Maybe they don't care which you go to. But maybe we won't choose McDonald's at all if things are to remain this unprofessional. This McDonald's is a dump.

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Images: The McChronicles.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Mexico is home to many cool things, but maybe the COOLEST thing going in the home of the Aztecs is the Zapopan (2691 Avenue Mariano Otero - Jalisco, near Guadalajara) McDonald's. This place is awesome!

The McChronicles has been hitting it lucky recently, visiting several incredible McDonald's restaurants. Let us share some info about this gem.

First off, the sweeping multistorey glass dining area is almost breathtaking.
The traditional corporate colors are artistically presented, the landscaping impeccable, the drive-thru is both logical and obvious while blending in quietly, and the whole presentation reflects a great sensitivity to the local culture and style.

First impression - the approach:
As we neared the store we were impressed with the verdant and lush vegetation. The Zapopan landscaper has clearly been working overtime - and doing things right. We felt like we were in a luxury resort. As we neared the building, the facility's exterior decor charmed us with its understated elegance and strength. The stage had been set for excellence. We wondered if the interior could meet the expectations set by the exterior.

Inside: Simply put ... Wow! The McChronicles felt like it had entered a museum. The place literally offered a feeling of subdued respect and dignity. The architecture was greatly appreciated as it made for a relaxing and inspiring experience. Our plan was to dart in, grab a bite, and run off. From the moment we entered, we knew we would be staying - drinking it all in.

The high ceilings, expansive glass (offering views of the landscaping and the sunny sky), and an incredibly-clean environment were greatly appreciated. And we even enjoyed the clouds of mariposa
(inlaid ceramic tiles) throughout the restaurant. In essence, this McDonald's sets an enchanting mood that overcame any thought we may have had of indulging in "fast" food.

And more: So, we sat, forgetting about our cares. Bathing in the elegance, relaxing. Then - a surprise. A charming young lady (crew) appeared and offered us a free sample of coffee. She had all the requisite supplies, was able to describe and promote the product, and helped us get just what we wanted. Incredible! We were reminded of the similar program occurring the previous week in the New York City area.

While there we tried a regional product, McPatatas. These are french-fried thick potato slices. Warm and hearty.

We then ventured over to the convenient yet private-ish Play Place. It was great to have the Play Place available yet not allowing the view or the noise to intrude on the main dining room.

At the end of the experience we simply didn't want to leave. The atmosphere was so wonderfully-relaxing that we could have sat for an hour. In the end we succumbed to the call of Mexico's myriad other beauties and forced ourselves out the door.

What an excellent accomplishment for McDonald's. To design, create, and deliver this unique oasis that somehow remains true to the corporate template. We all knew exactly where we were, but felt like we had experienced something quite special. Zapopan - simply awesome!

The McChronicles:
a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
The McChronicles.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Rosemont Rocks!

McDonald's store #13058, corner of Higgins & River Roads in Rosemont, Illinois, USA ... YOU are the best!

Settle in, this one is going to take a few minutes.

The McChronicles was making its way through town when it drove by a fairly typical-looking McDonald's. We made a mental note of the location, for future action. Admittedly we were intrigued by both
the convenient location and the huge water tower right behind the store. But we were mesmerized by the painters repainting the imposing structure.

We came back a day later, prepared to be unimpressed. Man were we wrong! First impression: this was the CLEANEST McDonald's we had ever seen. It looked like the store was just built yesterday. We peeked behind the counter and were stunned by the incredibly neat, labeled storage area and items. Impeccable! And the condiment area was in perfect order: clean, well-arranged, and fully functional. Customers LOVE that.

Next up was a wall full of awards. Year after year of OUTSTANDING MANAGER awards, year after year of OUTSTANDING DRIVE THRU awards. Wow!

Then we noticed something really cool. A large number of large flat panel displays showing very current music videos. As we sat down we noticed, at each table, a menu for music. This McDonald's had just unveiled, this very day we were told, a new music system called m-Venue Juke Box "Top Pop". According to BusinessWeek Online,

"McDonald's restaurants in Schaumburg, Ill., and St. Augustine, Fla., this month launched an in-store entertainment and marketing service that is activated by mobile phone. Customers in designated multimedia zones can send text messages to order up music, music videos and movie previews from Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Sony Pictures.

This "m-Venue" service is to be offered at more McDonald's locations by year's end -- for free during the launch, then available via download for a fee."

Customers can select a song/video from the menu, text message its code, and have their song play. The McChronicles was given a brief tour of the new system by an excellent Swing Manager named Jays C. We let her choose the song (Justin Timberlake's newest release) and we texted away. Within 60 seconds our selection was playing throughout the store. And the sound system is perfect! Full sound, not too loud. Awesome!

We were pretty blown away by the whole situation, until we saw "it". "It" was a beautiful banner. Bright, simple, and really easy to understand, and it said, "The World's Best Employees Work Here". Finally, we understood. And we were beyond blown away.

We re-engaged Jays and asked her about this banner, about the person behind all the cool things in her store. Jays made it clear that the store owner is a really awesome person. A person who truly believes in people, who empowers their crew, and who truly likes their team. The McChronicles noticed a small sign on the side of the order area, for crew's eyes only. It said that, since this was National People Day, the owner wanted to take the opportunity to thank every crew member for being so good, so productive, etc. And it was written in 3 languages.

The McChronicles is a firm believer in the saying, "Take care of your people and your people will take care of the customer". This store's owner truly respects their crew, and the crew does the rest: spotless exterior, CLEANEST interior, proud workers, helpful staff, cheerful faces, innovative devices that the crew knew how to operate. Simply outstanding!

This McDonald's is truly the most impressive that we have ever seen. It is the model that all others should follow. Not because it has the coolest decor, or because of some gimmick. No, this is the best because it embodies everything that we have been told McDonald's is. It lives up to the brand promise. It delivers QSC to the max, and it delivers due to the respect and appreciation shown the crew. Simply awesome!

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Images: The McChronicles.

New Hartford, NY McDonald's Shines!

Six posts ago our title was "New Hartford, NY McDonald's Disappoints". What a difference four days makes.

Virtually everything about today's visit was the same (the lunch rush had passed, the store was quiet, and we were the only ones in line to order) except for the results. Service was fast, the food was perfect, and the restaurant was as clean as we have ever seen it. Awesome!

One of our McChronicles observers (co-participating in today's visit) had read the previous post and dropped into the store on Tuesday. They saw a pretty good cleaning effort in progress. Today's experience was great because of this, and the ongoing, effort.

The New Hartford store is well-known for its very professional and pleasant staff - and is usually quite clean. That's why our last visit left us so disappointed. The McChronicles is pleased to see this great crew back on track - we're impressed.

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: The McChronicles.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Veggie McDonald's II

We just posted on the concept of a "Veggie McDonald's Menu", admittedly from an ignorant point of view. We asked a few stupid questions and hoped someone would comment and help us out.

Alas, it was our own diligence and good luck that brought us our answer - at least a part of it.

Here is a photo (from HelloNatasha's Flickr photo site) that depicts, to some degree, how McDonald's handles the vegetarian demand in India. Thanks hellonatasha.

Some of our veggie friends wish that good, healthy veggie offerings would start showing up on the McD's menu so the whole family can enjoy one restaurant (versus compromising or darting from one restaurant to the other).

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
screen grab from hellonatasha's Flickr site.

Regional McDonald's Websites

The McChronicles posted about an interesting website a while back. It is called "McDonald's of Central New York and Northern Pennsylvania". Basically it is a site that combines interesting info regarding McDonald's in a geographic region.

Since then we have learned about a couple of others. So now we know about these regional McDonald's websites:
These regional efforts seem to be focused on aggregating resources toward the goals of community, educational, and health support, along with aiding their local Ronald McDonald House, an awesome program.

The McChronicles would like to learn more from you regarding other regional McDonald's websites. Please share anything you can on this topic.

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
screen grab from the McDonald's NY, NJ, CT Tristate area website.

SPECIAL NOTE: This is The McChronicles' 350th posting! Yippee!


It's a busy, fast-paced world out there. So a quick dash into McDonald's can be quite helpful when we're out on the road. But it's not that easy.

You see, we're not the only ones out there. We're accompanied by tons of germs and bacteria. And our hands aren't always squeaky-clean when we hear the call of the Big Mac. Frankly, the sinks in the rest rooms aren't always very clean either. So, The McChronicles really appreciated this cool idea - hand sanitizer dispensers in the dining areas.

We encountered this great idea while in China recently and really appreciate the respect shown to the customers who want to be clean while they eat.

Good idea McDonald's.

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: The McChronicles.


Come ON people. It's 2006!

The McChronicles was aghast at the sight of a McDonald's straw dispenser (in China) that offered completely unprotected straws.

Standing beside the scene of the crime for only a brief moment allowed us to witness people pawing through several straws with their bare hands. We also witnessed the full array of pre-pawing atrocities performed with those hands (details of which we need not go into). Needless to say, The McChronicles passed on the straw and drank directly from the cup.

The bigger question is this. If this level of hygiene is accepted and promoted by the store's management, what else are they allowing behind the scenes??? Was our cup even a safe alternative?

Needless to say, in this day and age, with the knowledge we all possess, this is an abomination. Out of respect for your customers, and for your brand, we beseech you McDonald's. Do away with these archaic devices.

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: The McChronicles.

McDonald's Sweet Taro Pie

The McChronicles encountered McDonald's sweet taro pie for the first time in China recently.

Sweet taro is a form of yam, or sweet potato. It is very popular throughout the Pacific islands - and almost unheard of other places.

The pie tastes like ... a yam or a sweet potato!

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: The McChronicles.

Monday, October 02, 2006

New Hartford, NY McDonald's Disappoints

"Disappointed" is the word that comes to The McChronicles' mind after a visit to the New Hartford, NY McDonald's today.

Store #: 825
Time: 1:51PM
Date: 02 October 2006
Order: 1 Big & Tasty, 1 medium Coke
Customers: 1 other person in order area, waiting for order
Online Time: 90 seconds
Order Wait: 60 seconds
Quality: overdose of mayonnaise and ketchup, squirting out of
Service: no acknowledgement of customer for full 90 seconds while crew
milled about behind counter (seemed like 5 minutes)
Cleanliness: poor, sloppy, no effort
We've seen so many McDonald's operating on "excellent" mode that, when we see such sub-par performance, it really disappoints.

With NO ONE in the store except us and one other customer (waiting), well after the lunch rush, why can't anyone tidy up the condiment area? Why do we need to clean the debris off our table? Why do we have to eat while looking at litter beneath the tables?

The odd thing is that both of these images occurred in plain view of the crew. We didn't have to look in obscure places to uncover it. The garbage/condiment area is directly opposite the counter. The crew stares directly at it while working.

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Images: The McChronicles.

Veggie McDonald's

The McChronicles knows that McDonald's knows way more than we do about satisfying their vegetarian constituency. After all, McDonald's does quite well in places like India and Malaysia that have large vegetarian populations.

The McChronicles is ignorant when it comes to the needs of vegetarians, and we don't know much about McDonald's global vegetarian position, so we were interested when a veggie friend (lives on the west coast of the USA) wrote us recently and said:

"... but I still won't go until they have a veggie burger or really decent salad option. Or take the beef fat out of their fries. They could be really stupendous if they came up with some healthy options that were still tasty (i.e. not sliced apples in a cup). I've always said someone will make a lot of money if they come up with a whole, organic, healthy fast food option. How come no one listens?"

We wonder:
  • What, from a vegetarian's perspective, is not to like about the existing McDonald's salads?
  • Wasn't the beef fat removed already? Or is the issue here the fact that people are not SURE the beef is removed?
  • Aren't apples "tasty"? What else could be offered that would be "tasty"?
  • Doesn't McDonald's actively promote their vegetarian option to vegetarians?
  • What is McDonald's position on offering vegetarian options?

Here we have someone saying that McDonald's could "be really stupendous" to a certain demographic by making a few changes. We guess these changes are a lot harder than they look, and we are sure that McDonald's has been down this road a million miles. So, what's up with this?

  • from a customer perspective?
  • from the corporate McDonald's perspective?

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Image: The McChronicles

Sunday, October 01, 2006

McDonald's "McGold Card"

The McChronicles just encountered something cool. Something we have never heard of before. Something, it seems, we should have encountered. We discovered the McDonald's "McGold Card". "What the heck is a McGold Card?" we asked ourselves.

OK - first off, we found the McGold Card on Flickr, in paradigm4's collection (thanks paradigm4). Not having ever heard of such a card before, we Googled the thing. Clues were found in the LiveJournal mcdonalds_talk community. It seems that some McDonald's employees have them while others have never heard of the thing. Maybe only Canadians have them???

Finally, we discovered McDGoldCard.com. This site is apparently for employees only as we quickly encountered this notation: "Only McDonald's employees are authorized to use this site". Ads flashed that told us you can "save" using the card, and that you can find "new and interesting" things on this site. A little more investgation revealed that the McGold Card provides McDonald's employees with discounts at various merchants.

Seems like a great employee benefit. But many employees don't seem to be aware of it. Can anyone offer a definitive explanation?

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: paradigm4's Flickr account.

The McChronicles Manhattan McDonald's Tour: Stop #4

While in Manhattan, The McChronicles was stoked to see BODIES ... The Exhibition, so we scurried down to Manhattan's South Street Seaport.

While we were there we walked a short distance to a McDonald's. This store, at the corner of Fulton St & Cliff St., feels like a converted mom & pop corner candy store. It is small and unimpressive. It's OK to be small, but this store doesn't have to be boring. It has a great location - and a shot at a cool theme. Sad part is - it almost makes it, only to fall short.

The theme is "ships at sea", and the management has done a fair job at decorating the place. It didn't seem especially clean (though not dirty), especially cool (though not boring), or especially funky (though it wasn't cookie-cutter in design). It is a good McDonald's that has a ton of potential.

NOTE #1: This McDonald's, like many others in the world, is near a high tourist-traffic area (with all the pluses and minuses that that implies). We dropped in merely to observe (not to eat). The minute we reached, then passed, the counter, a manager bellowed that this restaurant was for customers only. He informed us that, if we didn't buy anything, we would have to leave. It was rudely done. It is understandable that tons of tourists would take advantage of a restaurant's bathroom or place to rest (all at a cost to the store) if allowed - and that's not fair. Understood. But rudeness is NOT required.

NOTE #2: After studying the lessons learned in BODIES ... The Exhibition, The McChronicles made a note to elevate our eating habits a bit. This exhibit depicts the workings of the human body like no other exhibit on Earth. Highly recommended.

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Images: The McChronicles.

The McChronicles Manhattan McDonald's Tour: Stop #3

As soon as The McChronicles tells you the address (Lafayette St & Canal St) you know we were in Chinatown. When we tell you we were there yesterday (September 30th) you know we were there for the annual Chinese Autumn Lunar (Moon Cake) festival.

This store is cool because it reflects the local Chinese style - a culture within a culture. We didn't eat here but we did check things out. The store has a TINY order counter area. They make up for the cramped You get a workout climbing to open seating when the store is crowded (like during the Moon Cake Festival).

The cool thing here is that this store offers free delivery to the local area (just like many of the McDonald's we encounter throughout China and Asia). And speaking of delivery, The McChronicles wants to take this opportunity to remind you (again) that french fries do NOT arrive alive - so skip them if you are having your food delivered.

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: The McChronicles.
ground-level space by boasting "3 floors of seating".

The McChronicles Manhattan McDonald's Tour: Stop #2

Next stop for The McChronicles whirlwind tour of Manhattan was the restaurant at 45th & Broadway.

Tight and small, this store offers up a confusing, mixed decor. The theme combines elements from Greek history, modern intermational, and Americana. What a design mess! And what a contrast with other McDonald's in the area that have coherent and interesting themes.

The crew had no problem keeping up with the crowd and did a good job.

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Images: The McChronicles.

The McChronicles Manhattan McDonald's Tour: Stop #1

You know you love McDonald's when you blow off a lunch with a friend at one McDonald's so you can go to another McDonald's! But let's not get into that right now. Let's just say that The McChronicles took advantage of an opportunity to romp about in Manhattan over the weekend, and seized the moment.

Stop #1 was at W33rd and 7th Avenue. This is the McDonald's that greets you as you emerge from Penn Station or Madison Square Garden. Like many big city McDonald's, it is small, tight, and busy.

This store offers nothing special, nothing more than convenience and the expected food & service. Still, we were glad to take advantage of the opportunity.

The McChronicles: a blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: The McChronicles.