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Ah, those golden arches. They’ve been our saviour more times than I can imagine: those early morning breakfasts before we drive to Birmingham (always a sausage, egg and cheese bagel meal with a toffee latte and an extra hash brown thrown in!), a treat on a rainy school holiday, or a drive-thru latte when the kids have fallen asleep in the back of the car.
We love McDonald’s.
I was really excited when I was invited to go behind the scenes of the branch in Rhyl. It’s a place we have popped into many times for a cheeky burger, so to see how it all works behind the counters was something I was interested to see.
At the restaurant, I was greeted by the franchisee Stewart Williams, who owns eight restaurants including Rhyl and Wrexham. Some people think of McDonald’s as being just a global corporation, but Stewart is a local businessman – his wife and daughter are part of the family team. Across the various stores, he employs around 800 members of staff, which is pretty incredible! The Rhyl branch alone has almost 80 members of staff, which is brilliant for local people.
I was also introduced to two lovely ladies who work there; Kelly who works as a floor manager and Lucy who is a crew member. They were both so helpful, showing me around and telling me all about their experiences.
Lucy has been there for a year and works around studying, while Kelly has worked there for around five years, doing weekday shifts around her children. One of the staff members, Carol, has worked there since it opened, almost thirty years ago!
Both Lucy and Kelly were keen to tell me how flexible McDonald’s is in terms of shifts, particularly the lady who worked around her children. There aren’t many employers that allow you to have the amount of flexibility that McDonald’s do, and I think that’s brilliant. I’ve seen too many friends have to give up work or spend a fortune on childcare because they can’t find a job that is compatible with looking after their children. Staff who go to university can work around their timetables and transfer to other branches if necessary. Not only that, but there are plenty of opportunities for career progression, from crew member to manager and beyond. The enthusiasm that the two ladies had for their job and McDonald’s as a company was genuine and lovely to see – they really do seem like a fantastic place to work for.
The environment, and reducing waste in particular, is something I am quite passionate at the moment, especially living by the coast. I know that McDonald’s have been in the media recently, as they’re working to replace their plastic straws with paper ones. It’s generated a lot of discussion and debate, but personally, I think it’s fantastic. There’s a way to go still, but every small change makes a huge difference, and if you think about the sheer number of plastic straws McDonald’s gave out, it’s a significant step in the right direction. I was delighted to see that swapping out plastic straws wasn’t the only thing McDonald’s are doing for the environment – the Rhyl branch has been involved in many litter pickups on the high street and beach cleans. The store is a mere stone’s throw from the seafront, so it is even more important that litter doesn’t make its way into the sea. Recently, staff from the Wrexham and Whitchurch branches cleaned up 17 bags of litter as well as shopping trolleys and sofas from the River Gwenfro as part of the Keep Wales Tidy initiative. Well done guys!
We’ve all (hopefully!) heard about the Ronald McDonald houses that McDonald’s fund, and if you don’t, go and read about them because the work they do for the families of sick children is incredible. McDonald’s do lots of other things for the local community as well, including providing thousands of free football kits to grassroots football teams up and down the country. Stewart and his team donated brand new kits to the Rhyl Hearts Under 10’s team, which is great for encouraging kids to get out there and play the beautiful game.
Let’s just stop and talk about the coffee for a moment. I am legit obsessed with a Maccy D’s coffee – toffee latte is my go-to drink, but even their standard lattes are to die for. I say this as a complete coffee snob as well. In fact, I would always choose a McDonald’s coffee over one from the major coffee chains because they taste so much better and are much more affordable. Less than two quid for a decent coffee? GET IN!!!! A little bird told me that they are trialling new barista coffee in some stores. I really hope that this comes to North Wales ASAP because I will be all over that.
I do love me a bit of tech, especially when it makes life simple, and the new systems in McDonald’s certainly do that. As a mum of three kids (soon to be four!), drive-thru was always the easiest option as we didn’t have to queue up, order and wait for food and then try and find somewhere to sit while balancing a tray full of food. The new self-service kiosks get rid of that problem and make it so much easier. The kids can go and find a table, and I can order our meal, customising it exactly how we want it and pay for it. You collect a table number, which has GPS built in, so your server knows precisely where you are sitting, and wait for your food to be brought over to you. It is so much easier, and while you’re waiting for your food, you can mooch on your phone using the free WiFi while the kids play on the iPads.
I’m not going to lie. I went in thinking ‘how hard can it be to make a burger?’. I came out a hot, sweaty mess with a wonky burger. Believe me, if you think McDonald’s is an easy job, think again. Those guys do not stop and the speed they work at to get your meal ready is incredible. As soon as you order your meal, it goes through to the various sections – the drinks, the fries and the burger/wraps etc. They have to be working together to time it perfectly, and when orders are popping through every few seconds, that’s no easy task. They make a burger in seconds – and remembering which order and how much to put on of every component is tricky. I couldn’t even work out which way round to put the buns in the toaster! While they are doing that, someone is sorting out your fries, and another is doing the drinks, and they all come together at the end. It was a lot of fun making my very own Big Mac, which, while it looked a bit wonky, tasted fab, but I have respect for anyone who can do that at speed without getting themselves into a muddle. It also shows how the staff all genuinely get on with one another (they have lots of social and team building events) because they have to work together so closely as a team to make sure everything is safe, clean (the staff wash their hands every 30 minutes at a minimum!) and efficient.
A big thankyou to Stewart and his team at Rhyl for letting me go behind the scenes and giving me a fantastic insight into the company!
*This is a paid collaboration with McDonald’s UK. All thoughts and words are my own.