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This high-tech McDonald's is a test lab for the fast food chain's future franchises


This high-tech McDonald's is a test lab for the fast food chain's future franchises

WATCH  | Take a look at this new McDonald's in D.C. -- it's totally tech-ed out and there is a good chance future franchise locations will soon look like.

What makes this McDonald's special? It's decked out with self-order kiosks, mobile payments, and smart soda machines. It's essentially a test lab for the chain's future locations.

The owner of this Rosslyn, Va., franchise is a 25-year-old who already co-owns several others with his father. This is the first that's totally tech-ed out.

"We’re trying to explore conveniences for customers, see what they like and give them every option possible," Carlos Mateos, Jr., said.

How does tech fit into McDonald's business model?

As competition heats up in the fast food sector, restaurant giants like Wendy's and Panera are turning to tech to attract eaters. 

"You want people to be able to order the way they want to order. We have people that come in here and automatically gravitate towards the kiosk," he said. "They feel in charge of their order."

McDonald's self-order kiosk. (Credit: Circa)

Their clientele is largely millennials and professionals on lunch breaks. "So we thought, okay, this is the perfect market to do that," Mateos explained."

By "that," the millennial franchise owner means high tech. In addition to the kiosks, his location will soon offer an on-demand mobile ordering app. Mateos says his location is the first in the country to feature all the different tech.

To be sure, kiosks aren't new to restaurants. However, what this tech-centric Mickey D's reveals is what fast food chains of the future might look like. 

McDonald's is introducing self-serve kiosks. What does that mean for workers?

There are over 4.7 million food and beverage workers in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some worker groups fear the tech updates could mean job losses for minimum wage earners.

The concern is that with kiosks, restaurants could potentially cut down labor costs. McDonald's has said that won't be the case, and for his part, Mateos said they've actually added to their roster:

"Right now we've created six additional order points. One may look at that and say, 'Wow, that's six jobs that you may be taking.' But, today, just looking at it, the influx of orders that we had at a given time, we have to invest more in people in the kitchen, in table service, in registers, in hosts that are out here trying to help people."

Having tech options is becoming an expectation for diners -- even if they come with glitches.

"The way I always said I view technology, it’s there. The only thing we have to decide is how we are going to utilize it. And when I talked to people, I said, 'How do you utilize it to make your life easier, be more efficient?'" Mateos said.

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