A McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) restaurant in Australia will become the first arm of the global fast-food outlet to offer customers the option of having their meals served with plates, cutlery and table service -- at least for a five-week trial period.
The Daily Telegraph newspaper of Britain reported that Glenn and Katia Dwarte, owners of a McDonald’s in Warilla, a suburb of Sydney, offered glassware and crockery to a number of customers, promoting requests for similar treatment from other patrons.
''Most of the people who came in decided to try it," Mrs. Dwarte said, according to GoodFood, an Australian news website.
"Most were quite excited. We actually had a group of eight people who asked me to take a photograph of them so they could put it on Facebook. We are also providing customer surveys so we can gauge the feedback."
When Catriona Noble, the managing director/CEO of McDonald’s Australian operations, ate a meal at the Warilla site just before Christmas -- with cutlery, table service and other amenities -- she subsequently proposed the idea of extended formal service at the store to the company’s chiefs in Chicago, Ill., who approved.
The Dwartes have attracted foreign interest in other innovations, as well.
"Last week, we had a visit from two people from America who came to have a look at our mobile ordering trial where people can download an app on their iPhone and can place and pay for it before they get here," Mr. Dwarte told GoodFood.
Mrs. Dwarte said that the mobile ordering systems have attracted corporate staff from overseas.
"They are quite keen to see if this [mobile ordering] will take off," she said. "And they were certainly aware we were doing this trial."
Separately, the Australian branch of McDonald’s recently enacted another measure to distinguish itself from its parent: Last month, a number of stores Down Under were temporarily permitted to call themselves Macca’s (which most Australians have called the restaurant chain anyway), the first time the corporation has allowed such rebranding.
"We've been a part of Australia for over 40 years now, and we're incredibly proud to embrace our 'Australian-only' nickname," Mark Lollback, chief marketing officer for McDonald's Australia, said.
"What better way to show Aussies how proud we are to be a part of the Australian community than by changing our store signs to the name the community has given us?"
According to the company, Australia has more than 800 McDonald’s outlets, employing about 85,000 people. The first restaurant opened in 1971 in Yagoona, Sydney.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.