Saturday, 16 January 2021

Taunton McDonald’s in midst of major improvement project

TAUNTON — The city’s only McDonald’s is about to become part of “Experience of the Future.”

That’s the slogan the company adopted in 2017 when chief executive Steve Easterbrook announced that touch-screen kiosks would be added to restaurants across the United States.

In June of this year, the company said it will add the self-serve ordering kiosks to 1,000 of its more than 14,000 U.S. stores over the next two years, with the expectation that all domestic locations will be equipped with kiosks by 2020.

The modernization program also includes curbside pickup at some locations and improved drive-thru capability.

The company, according to published reports, has claimed that customers tend to order more items when using kiosks and that the stand-up devices improve overall store efficiency and speed.

The Taunton McDonald’s in Plaza 44 on Winthrop Street/Route 44 has been closed nearly six weeks.

General manager Shannon Troia said table service, with employees carrying and delivering meals to customers’ tables, will be part of the redesign.

The upgrades, she said, are intended to provide “better hospitality.”

Troia, 28, said she’s been working for the company for more than a dozen years and took over six months ago as manager of the Taunton store.

The restaurant at 282 Winthrop St., she said, will reopen July 26 and have its ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house Aug. 4.

“We’ve pretty much gutted it all out,” Troia said, describing the scope of construction, remodeling and electrical work.

There will also be a Sept. 8 giveaway of a two-year lease for a 2018 Kia Forte LX sedan, with 30 key-holding raffle participants trying to start the car. The person with the key that works wins.

Troia said the Taunton McDonald’s already had curbside delivery. And although the drive-thru lane is being improved, she said the city so far has not approved installation of two-lane drive-thru service.

“We’re working on that,” she said, noting that 70 percent of sales in Taunton are generated by drive-thru business.

The upgraded play room for kids will include touch-sensitive, light-board tables that feature video games. The large room, which Troia said is getting new windows, can be rented out for birthday parties.

New bathrooms in the main dining area are also in the mix, she added.

Troia said she’s quite aware of the fact that a number of highly critical comments, during the past couple of years, have been logged by customers on the online review forum Yelp, complaining about rudeness and inefficiency on the part of some employees.

Troia said since taking over as general manager she’s fired and replaced any shift manager or worker who she said was not conducting business in a responsible, courteous and efficient manner.

“They know I mean business,” she said.

And contrary to some stories claiming that kiosks will lead to a reduction in staffing levels, Troia said she’s been busy conducting interviews to hire an additional 15 workers, bringing the total number of part-time and full-time employees in Taunton to 55.

Cross-trained workers, she said, will help customers if they encounter difficulty in using the item-ordering kiosks.

Roger Curtis is a partner in Napoli Management, the Rockland-based company that owns 18 McDonald’s franchises in Rhode Island and Massachusetts — including the Taunton and Raynham stores, the latter of which is located further east on Route 44 near Route 24.

Curtis, 42, said the company has owned the Silver City location for two years.

He said all new kitchen equipment is being installed in Taunton. Total cost of the improvement and modernization project, Curtis said, will easily exceed $1 million.

“It’s like a rebuild,” he said.

Curtis described the Taunton McDonald’s as “an old ’70s” model that was “not efficient.”

Television monitors will not be installed in the dining area.

“We’re getting away from TVs,” Curtis said. “People use their devices all the time now.”

Curtis said he likes the direction in which CEO Easterbrook is taking the company: “He has a really good vision when it comes to the brand,” he said.

Curtis said he worked part-time at McDonald’s for his future father in law, Joe Napoli, while attending Marshfield High School and later while a student at Wentworth Institute of Technology.

It was during college, Curtis said, that he met his future wife, who was a Northeastern University student, when the two worked together at McDonald’s.

The closest business neighbor to the Taunton McDonald’s is a Japanese steak house next door.

The largest vacancy in Plaza 44, which includes Ocean State Job Lot, is in a large building set apart and behind McDonald’s which, until 2013, included a Shaw’s supermarket.

“I hope it fills soon,” Troia said of the former Shaw’s space.

Source: http://www.tauntongazette.com/news/20180722/taunton-mcdonalds-in-midst-of-major-improvement-project

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