Waiters and fine china -- at McDonald's?

The burger chain is testing table service at a location in Australia. So far, there are no plans for similar experiments in the US.

By Jonathan Berr Feb 8, 2013 9:43AM
A sign outside the fast-food chain McDonaldsMcDonald's (MCD), which pioneered fast food in the 1950s, now is considering slowing things down a bit.

According to media reports, the Golden Arches is testing table service at one of its restaurants in Australia. Customers at the location near Sydney are also eating Big Macs and Egg McMuffins on real china using good silverware. They are enjoying beverages in breakable cups.

According to the U.K.'s Telegraph, Glenn and Katia Dwarte, the owners of the franchise, would break out the cutlery when family members stopped by for visits. But the idea caught on with other patrons who asked for similar service. Catriona Noble, the head of McDonald's Australia business, liked the concept so much that she asked permission from the company's Illinois headquarters to try the idea out. 

A McDonald's spokeswoman tells MSN that the fast food giant had no immediate plans to try this experiment in the U.S. That's a pity, because it would be an intriguing idea.

Rival Chick-fil-A, which is closely held, stands out in the fast food business for its attention to customer service. More specifically, it actually provides it. Employees will ask customers if they want refills on their drinks or perhaps dessert. No one at Chick-fil-A thinks they are eating at a five-star restaurant, but it is nice. 

McDonald's, which is struggling to attract customers, could learn from its rival. Chick-fil-A generated gross sales of $2.9 million per location in 2011, the most in the fast food industry, topping McDonald's by $400,000 per location, according to Bloomberg News.

--Jonathan Berr owns a small position in McDonald's. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

More on moneyNOW

Feb 8, 2013 2:21PM
Every Chick-fil-A that I have every been in has been hell bent on polite, proactive customer service. The Corporate home management people must pound this into the franchise owners heads and then the owners apparently do the same to the employees. The employees will look to see if you are out of anything and then come from behind the counter and get it for you. I've even had them show up at my table unbidden as I finished and ask if they could clear the table for me! This has even happened in north Scottsdale, Az.(I live on the west side of Phoenix.) For those of you who can't appreciate this let me point out that Scottsdale is generally referred to as "Snotsdale"  locally due the the typical attitude of a great number of it's residents. Yes, Chick-fil-A  definitely does service and has a really fine product also.
Feb 8, 2013 2:14PM
I tip very well when the waiter/waitress does an exceptional job, knows the menu and doesn't forget we're setting there.  No way I could tip anybody for serving me a Big Mac.  I'm sorry!
Feb 8, 2013 2:23PM

They have table service at McDonalds on lower B'WAY. in NYC. Also a Doorman wearing a Tux and overhead on a glass platform a guy playing a Grand Piano and they have table service and serve pastries for desert  this is not a new idea


Feb 8, 2013 6:13PM
20 years ago, in France, McD's had waiters, served food on real china, had a wine and beer list for beverages, and made the experience a pleasant one...Rude awakening when we came back to the US...take the sloppy service, food, and attitudes of the employees, and shove it..
Feb 8, 2013 3:24PM
Old hat. Burger King tried table service several years ago and it was a flop
Feb 8, 2013 7:36PM
Australia?  Well, yes it will work there as a service improvement.  But Australians are smart enough to not pick up a china plate and toss it in the trash on their way out. Won't work in the good ole redneck, don't give a damn, USA.
Feb 8, 2013 2:21PM
Only the coffee, and maybe the Sausage and Egg McMuffin is good.
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