Are the days of cheap cheeseburgers and Happy Meals over? It appears McDonald's is going upmarket - trialling table service and customised gourmet burgers that cost at least $10 - and there's hints of more dramatic changes to come.
A new "create your taste" gourmet burger option started at the Balmoral branch this week, offering customers the chance to customise their own burgers at a digital kiosk before having them delivered to the table. The base cost of the burgers is $10.90 but the final cost depends on which of the 20 ingredients - which include jalapenos, guacamole and grilled mushrooms - are chosen.
There was mixed reaction from McDonald's fans yesterday, with some saying it was too expensive for McDonald's. Others were excited about the chance to create their own burger. But it appears gourmet burgers might just be the start of big changes at the popular fast food chain.
McDonald's New Zealand managing director Patrick Wilson said the new move aimed to ensure all customers were able to eat what they wanted, how they wanted it, whether it be the traditional drive through, fast and convenient route or dining in and customising their meal.
He also said Kiwis could expect a number of further changes in the coming year including changes to its menu and technology.
"We're going to take one of our restaurants and change it up significantly," Mr Wilson said. "I'm not going to give out all the details but you'll see this year what we call proof points. So showing our consumers that we are changing and it's all centred around talking to the New Zealand consumer."
His comments come as McDonald's in Sydney has started trialling a new healthfood shop "The Corner", which sells lentils, soups, salads and roast vegetable meals with tofu, instead of the usual burgers and fries.
Mr Wilson said the changes represented the future of McDonald's, aimed at meeting the changing needs and demands of the market, but said the decision had not been made lightly due to the heavy capital investment required.
"The Balmoral restaurant will be a real insight into the future of McDonald's," Wilson said. "How the restaurant looks, how you order your food, how staff interact with customers, what you can order, and how it is made and presented."
"It's a big investment, we're a franchise system so they own 80 per cent of our restaurants. Together we'll invest somewhere between $10-$15 million in capital to bring this to life."
Create your own burger
The new self service system at McDonald's in Balmoral. Photo / Chris Gorman
• Customers use a digital kiosk to create their own customised gourmet burgers.
• There are 20 ingredients to choose from.
• The base cost begins at $10.90 but final costs depends on what ingredients are chosen.
• Began in Balmoral. Due to be rolled out at most of the 164 stores in the next 12 months.