Friday, January 18, 2013

Not a McDonald's to Bank On

McDonald's on UrbanspoonToday, after receiving yet another set of coupons in the mail, my wife and I attempted to enjoy an early lunch at McDonald's (77 Bank Street, Ottawa). 

We arrived at 11:40 A.M., sectioned out our coupon, handed it to the smiling McDonald's employee behind the counter and place our order. 

The Order: 1 Big Mac, 1 McChicken Sandwich, 2 Medium Fries and 2 Medium Cokes for $9.48. 

Our order was taken quickly and in less than a minute our food arrived and placed on our tray.  We moved over to the drink and condiment station to pour our own Coke out of the machine, gather napkins and straws.   We headed over to our table which was clean, sat down, unloaded our winter jackets and a sweatshirt (lost ten pounds right there!) in the somewhat newly renovated restaurant.   Then I realized I forgot the ketchup......

That is where things went downhill.  The drink and condiment station magically was swarmed by about four guys all gathering what they needed.  I went over and patiently waited my turn only to realize that someone was imported from Trader Joe's parking design in Los Angeles to design the layout of this McDonald's restaurant.  To walk in the only front door from Bank Street, there is a double single file door to juggle awkwardly as other customers are coming and going.  To make matters worse, once inside the store you are right at the small drink and condiment station.  If it is busy you have to stick your elbows out like a New Yorker boarding the 4 Train at Grand Central anytime of the day. Who mapped this out and thought it was great idea?  Thus, I was left to impress Mohammed Ali by bobbing and weaving while waiting to get to the ketchup dispenser.  Then I had to dispense qty 4 of those obnoxiously small paper cups that barely hold a thimble full ketchup and retrace my steps back to my table.  

Stop right there, on my way back to the table, I noticed a couple of tables that could easily have been removed that line the right side of the wall running along the kitchen/counter.  The condiment and drink station could obviously have been moved here to provide better customer traffic flows. With these changes included, there would of been additional seating upstairs and a decent amount of seating would still be left on the main floor. But of course that would have been too easy. 

This being flu season, my wife suggested we each wash our hands.  Great idea!  I tried first at the washroom only to find the door locked.  I returned to my wife to let her try the Women's washroom.  Turns out each washroom has a single toilet instead of a several stalls and a couple of sinks.  A busy downtown McDonald's within steps of the Supreme Court and Parliament Hill has to suffice with one washroom for each gender?   To make matters worse, my wife reports back that the water flow out of the tap rivalled that of the Nevada Desert. 

I reattempted to use the washroom.  A manager came with the mop and met an employee with air freshener.  They mopped out the entire place and made Febreeze stockholders proud by emptying two bottles of air freshener.  I patiently waited and then washed my hands.  No problems there until I went to dry them, nothing.  The hand dryer was not working, no paper towels to be found.  I left the washroom with wet hands and used a couple of napkins from the table, at least that was solved.  But now I needed more napkins as a few had dropped on the floor and I had just a couple.  Back to drink and condiment station hell again!

Upon my return, I dug into my meal.  The Big Mac seemed o.k. but was lukewarm at best.  It had the usual sauce, cheese, undersized paddies and sesame seed bun.  Nothing special but that is what you can expect at any McDonald's nevermind this location in particular. 

The fries were also lukewarm.  They apparently had been sitting for a while.  A general observation: Why is it that fast food places like Wendy's and McDonald's either are out of fries and you have to wait the annoying two minutes for the unorganized employees to make it or lukewarm because the fries have been sitting for so long.  Why is there no happy medium?

Overall, this McDonald's needs some help.  The renovations that have recently been occurring at McDonald's across Canada were not done right at this location.  Only one entrance that allows customers to go through single file in one direction at a time in a busy downtown store is asking for trouble.  Couple that with putting the drink and condiment station, it seems like someone who poorly designs mall parking lots finally got fired and was hired by McDonald's.    As well, having only one washroom available for each gender is also an issue due to cleanliness issues.  This location needs retrofitting to save the remodelling concept.  This restaurant back in the late 90s and early 2000s was a decent place to eat especially as a university student after a late night at the bar.  But now, it is nothing to Bank on when visiting Bank Street.
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