The current state of the fast food industry is a bit of a paradox: Customers want higher quality food, but they don’t want to sacrifice convenience. Needless to say, achieving speed without reducing quality is always tricky business, even in our modern Tweet-it-and-move-on world – but it’s a lesson McDonald’s may be learning the hard way.
Earlier this year, McDonald’s made a major announcement: After testing a switch from frozen to fresh beef in some of their burgers, the chain decided to start cooking their famous Quarter Pounders to order from fresh meat at all locations nationwide by mid-2018. The move, which is intended to improve taste and juiciness, puts MickeyD’s in line with other major burger chains like Wendy’s and Shake Shack that are often cited as serving higher quality burgers.
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But Reuters recently revealed what Ronald McDonald (and probably Grimace) doesn’t want you to know: Those tests – which have been happening for nearly two years in about 400 locations in Oklahoma and Texas – show that using fresh beef means that customers have to wait about a minute extra from order to eating. The primary reason is that even though fresh beef cooks faster than frozen beef, cooking-to-order means that the burgers can no longer be prepared in batches in advance. And if you want your Quarter Pounder well-done, expect to wait even a little longer. “We have to explain that it takes a bit longer,” Claudia Barcenas, a McDonald’s assistant manager in Dallas, told Reuters. “Perhaps a minute.”