The renowned fast-food chain McDonald’s has announced its decision to phase out self-serve soda stations in its U.S. restaurants.
This change will be rolled out progressively across all its outlets, altering the way customers get their drinks.
According to reports from the The State Journal-Register in Illinois, the move was prompted by franchise owners’ concerns about hygiene issues, theft, and consumer eating habits.
McDonald’s to Remove Self-Serve Soda Stations in the U.S.
Despite this shift, refills for customers will not be impacted. McDonald’s franchise owners assured that refills will remain free, even after the machines are gradually removed by 2032.
Kim Derringer, who operates three McDonald’s franchises in Springfield, Illinois, commented that “free refills are a big draw for people.”
In Illinois, some franchisees have already started to remove these stations, choosing to have staff directly serve drinks and meals to customers’ tables.
Brad Davis, a franchise owner in Springfield, mentioned that since early 2023, his restaurant stopped handing out empty cups to customers. His franchise on South Sixth Street was chosen as a pilot test by the corporate headquarters. “It was an adjustment for both customers and staff,” Davis admitted.
McDonald’s aims to transition to an automated system that dispenses drinks without customers pressing a button. This move also seeks to eliminate theft and offer a more personalized dining experience.
Due to the pandemic, the chain has noticed a decline in customer footfall in its outlets. Many opt to use the app for orders or pick up their food and consume it outside the restaurant. In response, McDonald’s plans to open smaller-format restaurants. Chris Kempczinsk, the company’s CEO, revealed plans for a new restaurant model named CosMc’s for the upcoming year.
With a presence in over 100 countries and close to 40,000 restaurants, McDonald’s remains a fast-food giant. In the U.S., sales saw a 10.3% increase in the first quarter of 2023.
With information from The State Journal-Register