They're already being served up in some locations.
It's probably safe to say most people go to McDonald's for convenience and consistency over anything else. But in a world of heightened food quality awareness and, well, a bunch of burger joints, the Golden Arches is officially jumping on the fresh beef bandwagon to compete with the likes of Carl's Jr., Wendy's and fast casual spots like Shake Shack. In an announcement today, McDonald's says it has rolled out fresh, made-to-order Quarter Pounders to 3,500 locations across the continental U.S. and will continue to expand that offering to 14,000 locations by May of this year. (We can't say for sure it's a direct result of Wendy's teasing McDonald's on Twitter, but it probably didn't help.) According to Nation's Restaurant News, fresh beef is already on the menu in Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Miami, Nashville, Orlando, Raleigh, and Salt Lake City, with Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle up next.
In March of 2017, the fast food giant announced its intentions to put fresh beef on the menu, and then started testing such a burger at select locations starting in the Fort Worth, TX area according to CNBC. Of course, with that change in the usual workflow came some growing pains. As the number of locations testing out fresh burgers grew, so did customer wait times. While the unfrozen item only added about one minute to the order preparation time, those sixty seconds can feel a lot longer when you're waiting in our idling car at the drive-thru. At the time, McDonald's average wait was about 3.5 minutes, already on the slower end.
On the other end of the spectrum, McDonald's has also been concerned with offering sheer value as it recently revamped and reintroduced its Dollar Menu. After a four-year absence, the chain decided on tiered, $1, $2, and $3 offerings, however, some fans were upset that the brand decided not to include any French fries in the new promotion. And speaking of upset fans and promotions, McDonald's has also tried to cash in on its cult status of late by bringing back its Szechuan Sauce, which was originally offered around the 1998 release of the Disney movie Mulan, after an episode of the animated sitcom Rick & Morty made reference to it. The original rollout was considered by fans to be a disaster, but this year McDonald's tried to make good with a more organized effort.
Between the fresh beef, cheap eats, and plays toward nostalgia, it seems clear Mickey D's will do whatever it takes to keep people ordering its burgers.