Not since McDonald’s opened its first restaurant on the Kenai Peninsula in Soldotna has there been such excitement about a new McDonald’s.
The location of the Soldotna store is the only thing that isn’t new. From the exterior to the heated arctic entrance ways to everything you see when you walk in, it’s all new and like no other golden arches in Alaska. The first impression is you get is that you’ve crossed into a parallel universe and found yourself in the galley of the Starship Enterprise without knowing how the replicator works.
But not to worry — aboard this starship is a friendly well trained crew to assist in finding all your favorites at the touch of a finger. Rather than the familiar “May I take your order please?” from a youngster behind the counter while you stare up at the menu, comes a pleasant “Would you like some help with that?” as you pause in wonder at your surroundings.
The touch screen kiosk at the new McDonald’s does it all in addition to things you may have never thought you could do at McDonald’s, like custom make your favorite sandwich with or without a bun or pickle, specialty sauces and many other options all for you to select or un-select.
According to Scotty, who will not beam you up, his wife Deena gets the credit for the futuristic décor.
“She picked out most of the décor and design of the dining room. This is the first of its kind in Alaska,” said Scott Cunningham who with his wife Deena are the owner-operators of the Soldotna, Kenai and Homer McDonald’s.
“The self-ordering kiosk is just another way you can place and pay for your order without having to interact at the service counter unless it’s a cash transaction,” explained Cunningham.
The kiosk is not the only touch friendly customize your order addition, replacing the place, push and pull drink vendor is a new soda fountain touch machine.
“The drink fountain gives more options where you can add to any soft drink a shot of cherry, raspberry, lime or vanilla with a simple touch, try it you’ll love it,” says Scott.
If you are a smart phone carrying customer you can even place and pay for your order with your phone and just swing by and pick your meal to dine in or on the run.
“If you have Applepay or a like feature on your phone you can pay on your phone and we have mobile orders where you may be out shopping and feel hungry for a Big Mac or want to try one of our new sandwiches or salads. Place your order on your phone, come to the restaurant and either eat-in or be on your way. We live in a very instant and interactive world and what we have here is an experience of the future and we now have the first Experience the Future restaurant in the state. There are some other features behind the counter as well that is a whole new level of technology on the customer side of the counter and behind the counter,”explained Deena.
“Our philosophy is that we want every guest to come into the restaurant and feel like they’re coming into our home not a hamburger stand, and when you have guests into your home you’re sure it’s clean and in order with fresh flowers out, you offer them great food and conversation and that’s what we’re doing here and with the kiosk we’ve just shifted the front counter over and our servers are more like the hosts in our home. We you to have a fun experience with the kiosk and order at your own pace and with Experience the Future we want to give our customers the opportunity to order however they want, whenever they want and if you want to step up to the counter and order there you can still do that.”
According to Scott the new design is not to cut down on the labor force.
“It’s actually increased our labor force as we have added guest experts at the Soldotna restaurant who work out in the dining room to up the customer experience making sure all their needs are met while dining in and to be sure that it is better than it has ever been in the past.”
The reaction from customers to the new Experience the Future McDonald’s? “I’m loving it!”