Bloomberg reports that the bacon devotees over at McDonald’s corporate have found themselves in conflict with franchisees over a subject so perfect for this exact moment that we feel the need to reinforce that this is real, and not a fun prank or something. It is, heh, Not The Onions. McDonald’s is directing franchise owners to build a wall as part of a new remodeling plan. Franchise owners, in turn, say that the wall is expensive and totally unnecessary.
In letters and an email obtained by Bloomberg, franchisees complain the proposed walls, which would separate the kitchen area from the dining room, are “useless and problematic.” That letter reads, in part:
“We must allow our owner operators to take back control of the reinvestment that is happening, stop the useless and problematic investing (Sam Walls), and focus our reinvestment in what will actually produce a return on investment (drive thrus and kitchens).”
SAM is short for service area modernization, and here refers to walls that would block off the kitchen, potentially hiding equipment and the bustle of an active kitchen from view. A survey of 245 store owners conducted by the National Owners Association (formed last year) and viewed by Bloomberg revealed that outside of the concerns surrounding cost, owners also worry that the “proposed barrier could also create security concerns... Kitchen staff wouldn’t be able to see the dining room or customers entering and leaving the restaurant.”
The push for SAM walls, as Bloomberg points out, lines up neatly with the company’s steady push toward the realm of “fast-casual” and away from at least the appearance of a typical fast-food restaurant.
Again, per Bloomberg:
In an effort to stay ahead of fast-food competitors and keep same-store sales growing, CEO Steve Easterbrook is championing remodels that include self-order kiosks, new systems for delivery orders and extra drive-thru lanes at some restaurants. But the company recently said it’s delaying those renovations by several years to appease franchisees who have complained about the expensive changes.
Franchisees own more than 90 percent of McDonald’s 37,000 locations globally.
In a statement emailed to Bloomberg’s Lesley Patton, McDonald’s spokeswoman Andra Abate stressed that the company remains committed to working with franchisees “so they have the support they need to run great restaurants and provide great quality experiences and convenience for our guests.”
We think that unnecessary, expensive construction projects that just make things worse for everyone are bad. We also think that anything that stops you from being able to observe how long it’s been since the fries came out of the fryer and went into the little red sleeve is a serious detriment to the McDonald’s experience.