The McDonald’s on Via De La Valle, owned by TPHS alumnus Christian Sandoval (‘03), was chosen as the last of 31 McDonald’s restaurants throughout the United States to test the new Create-Your-Taste menu and ordering system.
Sandoval was not a Marketing student at TPHS, but he has become an adept businessman. He owns two other McDonald’s in San Diego, though only the Via De La Valle location is testing Create-Your-Taste.
The new system is indoor-dining only and features a touch-screen kiosk in the restaurant that allows customers to create a custom burger. According to Sandoval, there is a separate menu for Create-Your Taste with more options, including varying types of meat and buns. The system has also led to cooking with fresh-cut tomatoes, a change that has affected the regular menu as well.
Despite some overlap in the ingredients for each menu, there are also two kitchen lines; for Create-Your-Taste, new technology has resulted in different cooking procedures. Customers design their meal at the kiosk, then bring a printed receipt to the cashier to place an order and pay.
“It’s too hard for you to tell me what you want on your burger, trying to navigate the menu; that hurts speed of service,” Sandoval said. “The kiosks help determine what you want.”
With the addition of kiosks, there are two more staff members to help customers operate the interface until more people are accustomed to them. They also double as servers for the dine-in portion of Create-Your-Taste.
According to Sandoval, since his restaurant is No. 31 of the restaurants testing the system — the kiosks have only been installed for two weeks — he has been able to include more changes in technology and decor that are not a part of Create-Your-Taste. He plans to add a digital screen that shows local news updates, including the results of area high school sports games.
“I want to bring in a new set of customers, my age and younger, to have experiences at McDonald’s,” Sandoval said. “It’s going to be between a digital and human experience.”
TPHS student Allira Barclay (9) said that she thinks the kiosk will be more efficient and appealing to younger people, though she does not actually go to McDonald’s very often. Kenneth Lin (11), on the other hand, is not sure how attractive the concept will be for teenagers.
“There’s a trend going around teenagers, saying you have to eat healthy,” Lin said. “But a lot of adults still go to McDonald’s and it’ll be interesting for them.”
Create-Your-Taste could provide a healthier option since customers are able to build their own burgers, according to Sandoval. The restaurant will add a new chicken option for meat in 30 days, which can lower calorie intake.
“Whatever [the consumer’s] calorie goal is for the day, they can adapt their burger to it,” Sandoval said.
Lin recently tried Create-Your-Taste. Although he said it was not an unfamiliar concept, he still thought it “pretty cool for people who want to get their money’s worth or don’t just want a quick bite.” He was also surprised at the quality of the burger.
“I don’t go to McDonald’s expecting much out of it; I’m there because it’s cheap and fills up my stomach,” Lin said. “This burger — it was like, ‘Is this from McDonald’s?’ I was really satisfied with the burger. It tasted really good and fresh.”
According to Sandoval, Create-Your-Taste will be implemented throughout the nation by the end of 2015.