December 19, 2017

Reopening of McDonald’s reveals future

By Jill Draper

McDonald’s is modernizing its fast-food restaurant concept throughout the nation, and the location at 13301 State Line Rd. is celebrating a new look, a new ordering system and in the near future, new menu options. At the grand reopening on Dec. 19, the first 100 customers (beginning at 8 a.m.) for both drive-thru and kiosk orders will win a free extra-value meal each week for a year. Egg McMuffins, McRibs and Quarter Pounders are $1.99 through the end of December.

Part of the big change is a self-service system involving two double-sided kiosks with touch screens. These allow inside customers to place their own orders without waiting in line, although the walk-up counter will remain open. Also new is a section of the parking lot with geofencing. The orders from customers who have prepaid by phone will pop up on the restaurant’s screen when their cars come within 100 yards of the lot. If the customer chooses curbside delivery, an employee will then bring the orders to the cars parked in designated spots. The restaurant also is partnering with Uber Eats, a food service that delivers to your front door.

“We want to make things more convenient for our customers, especially millennials who are used to doing everything online,” says Ty Yano, owner-operator of 13 McDonald’s restaurants in the area.

He describes the store’s new interior look as contemporary. Dark oak paneling has been replaced by lighter colors like warm beige and sage green. Booth seating features Corian countertops and a touch-responsive sparkle table has been added to entertain kids. The menu is also changing. In the near future breakfast items will include croissants, muffin tops and other baked goods. Additionally, the restaurant soon will be switching to fresh beef for its Quarter Pounders instead of frozen patties.

Yano, who jokes he must have ketchup in his blood after working with McDonald’s for nearly 50 years, was studying business management in southern California in 1969 when he took a part-time job at the Long Beach location. Eventually he became supervisor of five McDonald’s restaurants.

“I enjoyed it, but I was working much harder than the owner. I decided to get my own franchise,” he says. No opportunities were readily available in California, so he moved to the Midwest and purchased a McDonald’s in Grandview, later adding a dozen more locations.

Yano says he “wore many hats in the beginning,” but now has other people in charge of operations, human resources and marketing. The general manager of the 13301 State Line Rd. McDonald’s is his stepson, Ben Allison.

Allison often jumps in during the lunch rush to help assemble orders or assist customers. But he didn’t work his way up from the deep-fryer station. Instead he was an attorney at Polsinelli PC who spent most of his days sitting behind a computer researching real estate developments. After announcing his new job at McDonald’s, he says his co-workers’ responses varied from “Are you crazy?” to “Take me with you!”

“I didn’t get to interact with people all that often at my other job,” he says. “That’s been the biggest difference. I also didn’t know a whole lot about the fast-food business. Managing McDonald’s has been a great experience.”

Yano also enjoys interacting with customers and checking on the many families that come in. “Every day is different. I think that Ben initially wondered how difficult could this job be, but now he’s seeing the intricacy involved in keeping the operation running smoothly.”

Allison says it’s been helpful to be connected to Yano’s other McDonald’s restaurants. “If we run out of buffalo sauce, we borrow some until our order comes in. If we’re short-staffed, other stores can send us help if they have extra people.” The main challenge, he notes, is finding good help. “We’re always hiring, and we pay higher than minimum wage.”

Yano’s other McDonald’s locations range from south of Kansas City in Harrisonville to Emanuel Cleaver Boulevard near the Country Club Plaza.

“It’s a misconception that the McDonald’s corporation is just one big worldwide entity,” he says. “Really, we’re just small business people invested in the community.”

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