McDonald’s is planning a significant change in its dining experience by phasing out self-serve beverage stations in its U.S. restaurants by the year 2032. Instead of customers helping themselves to beverages, they will be required to request refills at the counter.
This transition aims to create a consistent experience for both customers and employees across all ordering points, including McDelivery, the mobile app, kiosks, drive-thru, and in-restaurant dining. While McDonald’s did not provide specific reasons for this change, it is suggested that factors like food safety, theft prevention, and a decline in dine-in customers have influenced the decision.
Some McDonald’s franchises in Illinois have already begun implementing this shift away from self-serve soda machines. Owners of these locations have cited the growth of digital service and the desire for greater convenience as driving factors behind the change. Despite initial adjustments for both customers and staff, feedback and complaints have been relatively minimal.
Self-serve soda machines have also been removed from McDonald’s locations in other regions, such as Orange, California. This shift aligns with the broader trend in the fast-food industry, where more customers are opting for takeout and digital orders, a trend accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
While this transition signifies a significant change in the McDonald’s dining experience, it reflects the evolving landscape of fast-food service and convenience in the digital age.