Region's first 'McDonald's of the future' comes to Knoxville

Region's first 'McDonald's of the future' comes to Knoxville

August 11th, 2017 by Associated Press in Breaking News

Welcome to the future of fast food.

McDonald's on Cedar Bluff unveiled Friday its self-service kiosks as part of its "experience of the future." Customers can now choose between ordering with a traditional register and employee or a touch-screen, nearly 6-foot tall kiosk.

"The kiosk allows the person to customize their own order, to take their time, do it the way they want to do it," Tom Cochran, owner of the Cedar Bluff McDonald's, said. "And the kiosk is just one part of this."

The experience of the future also includes table service. Customers receive a number when they order and are shown to their table. Each number has an electronic device that allows workers to know where in the restaurant the customer is sitting to efficiently deliver food.

The Cedar Bluff McDonald's is the first location in the region to introduce kiosks and table service. The changes will expand to every McDonald's location in the next year, Cochran said.

Interaction between customers and employees will be more prevalent in the restaurant, which requires more "smiling faces," Cochran said.

"We are adding more employees, not taking them away," he said. "And it's more fun. If you're getting out shaking hands with the customers, getting to know them, it's a more personal job."

The Cochran family owns 27 McDonald's franchises, buying its first one in 1960. Cochran said this is "one of those watershed moments."

"My parents developed the apple pie," Cochran said. "We've seen a lot of changes. With the drive through everything changed. With breakfast everything changed. With this we're changing the industry. We're going to be a different type of environment for our customers. I'm excited about it."

Kiki Davis, employee at the Cedar Bluff McDonald's, said she's excited for the slight change in her daily duties.

"I love the changes," she said. "It's a new experience. It's a more personal experience to understand what they like, what they don't like."

The changes will continue, Cochran said. Although there is not a definite timeline, mobile ordering and delivery services are on the horizon.