WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
As more food orders are taken online restaurants don’t need to operate traditional restaurants. Or employ people…
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With the rise of automation – which in the world of fast food includes everything from the development of burger flipping robots, that got fired because they were too good, and clean meat, meat made without the animals which would eliminate almost all of McDonald’s global meat supply chain and could even put Zebra burgers on the menu, and fully automated ordering and payment systems – McDonalds has now announced the opening of its first so called Dark Kitchen in the UK, and while the kitchen is staffed in a traditional manner with actual humans and fry cooks eventually the company wants to turn it into a fully automated human-less kitchen in order to meet the company’s growing demand for food delivery.
In the company’s third quarter financial results in October, McDonald’s UK and Ireland boss Paul Pomroy said delivery now accounted for more than 10 per cent of all its UK business.
McDonald’s started adding its menu to food app UberEATS in 2017, and now 950 sites across the country offer the service to customers. The company’s first dark kitchen location opened in Hanworth, West London, as part of a “wider trial to test varying restaurant formats” the company said in a statement.
McDonald’s, like many companies in the food retailing space, is trying to work out how to improve operational efficiency when fulfilling orders placed via food delivery apps, and trying to figure out new ways to avoid compromising the restaurant experiences for those who choose to buy food in person.
A spokesman said that the kitchen “is a first for McDonald’s UK and falls in line with its other experimental site on Fleet Street, which operates solely as a takeaway and where food is ordered via new interactive screens,” and he also said “as delivery becomes increasingly popular with diners McDonald’s is hoping to assess how best to manage delivery and order flow.”
Currently, app orders are prepared and picked up from existing restaurants, which is having an impact on the customers going into branches to takeaway or eat in, and the spokesman said McDonald’s wants to ensure people are still getting the service they expect, while still growing its delivery side.
In Hanworth the dark kitchen will serve the same catchment area as a traditional restaurant would, and customers will be informed on their UberEATS receipt that their food has been prepared in the new way.
“It’s important that our offer reflects the needs of the people in the local area, and the Hanworth delivery kitchen has recently opened to help nearby restaurants meet the demand from McDelivery orders. The opening will ensure that restaurants in the surrounding area can continue to provide the service and convenience that our customers expect, while ensuring that McDelivery customers have a great experience,” added the spokesman.
McDonald’s isn’t the only restaurant or group to begin selling via a cheaper-to-run dark kitchen spaces though. In March, Uber founder Travis Kalanick bought 100 dark kitchens with the intention of renting the spaces out to fast food companies, and meanwhile Uber’s competitor Deliveroo has around 15 dark kitchens operating across the UK.