Lovelock’s fast food could be even faster now that customers can order meals from a computer instead of a cashier. But, machines programmed to cook and serve hamburgers and fries faster than humans have not arrived yet so there’s plenty of local people still employed at McDonalds.
After months of construction, owners of the Lovelock McDonalds officially introduced the upgrades including the computerized food ordering system last week. A crowd showed up for the free food cards and the response was mostly positive to the new look and electronic menus.
There’s still a drive-through window but those who enter the establishment are greeted by employees who guide them through the electronic process. The two touch-screen kiosks allow customers to see their selections and the prices before payment. Restaurant owners expect the new electronics to improve order accuracy and streamline customer service at McDonalds.
The technology did not eliminate jobs at the Lovelock restaurant according to the owners. Instead of staying behind the counter, more employees work in the dining area assisting customers with their electronic orders, serving food to seated guests and cleaning the area.
Some regulars still prefer ordering from a person instead of a computer screen. One Lovelock couple said they will adapt to the technology and it will not end their daily trips to McDonalds.
“We like the old way better. We like having people to look at when we order,” said Lovelock resident Glenna McDonald. “We’re not the big city and we’ll have to get used to it.”
McDonald thinks the restaurant’s new exterior “could be more colorful” but her husband Dean likes the new look. He’s less enthusiastic about the electronic screens that take his food orders.
“We come in here every day. It’s a lot easier to go up to a representative and order a cup of coffee without punching it into a machine,” he said. “I think it’s too much technology.”
Bryce Sherron, 12, said the electronic screen helped him to get exactly what he wanted.
“I can customize what I want and what I don’t want,” he said. “I customized the brand-new quarter pounder and also I customized a McFlurry and I got a water bottle. I got a Buttermilk Crispy Chicken with extra mayo and that’s my favorite thing ever at McDonalds.”
Rather than waiting for their food at the counter, customers can take a seat and wait to be served by McDonalds waiters and waitresses like a typical sit-down restaurant. Free Wifi is available and power outlets for charging laptops and phones will be installed, the owners said.
There’s less indoor seating but larger restrooms are handicapped accessible. The eatery’s exterior is pale tan and grey with just a hint of yellow in the McDonalds logo. Gone are most of the clown colors as McDonalds upscales Lovelock and its other restaurants across the country.
Lovelock customers can now order and pay ahead using an app on their cell phones then park outside and wait for car hops to bring out the food, like at the old-time, drive-in burger shops.
“They just pull up to one of our designated mobile order spots and it tells us on our screen inside which stall they’re in,” said Guest Experience Leader (GEL) and Reno-Kietzke McDonalds Department Manager Mikala Burroughs. “We’ll know exactly which stall to go to with their order.”
A food delivery service in a partnership with Uber Eats may also be in the works for Lovelock.
The McDonalds menu now offers fresh, cooked-to-order, quarter-pound hamburgers and a specialty coffee selection with better prices than the competition like Starbucks, the owners said.
Robert, Chad and Grant Humason own McDonalds franchises in Reno and Lake Tahoe and have owned the Lovelock restaurant for two years. They said the local business is still a work-in-progress and they are open to suggestions such as power outlets in the dining room.
Chad Humason said his McDonalds employees are helping customers get comfortable with the electronic menu and ordering system that he believes could benefit customers in the long run.
“We are still evolving because our guests are telling us they don’t like maybe pushing the buttons or they are a little bit nervous about using it so we’re trying to figure out new procedures and how to help everybody,” he said. “It definitely helps with order accuracy.”
Pershing County Commissioner Larry Rackley said he’s still getting comfortable with the electronic ordering but likes the idea of ordering ahead and picking up food in the parking lot.
“I was leary at first so I wasn’t using the kiosk,” he said. “If I came in, I used the drive-through. But, we just went over it with Sam the manager and it’s probably not as bad as I thought it was. You can also order your stuff on your cell phone before you get here and it senses when you get here. You park out there and they bring it to you. That, I’m going to try.”
County Commissioner Carol Shank said she’s already comfortable with the electronic menu. She’s even more impressed by the upgrades in customer service at the Lovelock McDonalds.
“Customer service has improved under the new management,” she said. “I’ve noticed, the last month or so, they are very polite and they say their name. They’re doing a great job.”
Lovelock Volunteer Fire Department volunteers and fire trucks were on scene for the event. In return, a quarter of the food sales made during the two-hour event will be donated to the LVFD.