The McDonald’s restaurant taking shape near the Navy Exchange building at the 32nd Street Naval Station in San Diego will feature the fast-food chain’s fabled golden arches, Chicken McNuggets, assorted burgers and french fries.
But, unlike other McDonald’s, this small, prefabricated metal building will have no indoor seating.
Instead, patrons will be served at a drive-through and two walk-up windows--and they’ll select their meals from a decidedly slimmed-down menu that won’t include milkshakes, Quarter Pounders or a handful of other items sold at the thousands of McDonald’s elsewhere in the country.
The 630-square-foot McDonald’s Express, which was trucked in from Los Angeles on Monday, is a prototype of others that might be built elsewhere in the West, said Steve Evans, operations manager for 19 company-owned restaurants in San Diego County. The prefabricated buildings are designed for locations where most customers are buying food for off-site consumption.
The building, which measures 14 feet by 45 feet, will become the seventh McDonald’s Express in the country when it opens in early November. The others are in Akron, Ohio; Baton Rouge, La.; Atlanta and Memphis.
Restaurant industry analysts say McDonald’s and other fast-food chain operators are experimenting with smaller outlets that lack indoor seating in an attempt to cut costs. The downsized restaurant makes sense because “about 60% of McDonald’s sales are for off-premise consumption anyway,” said Steve Rockwell, an industry analyst with Baltimore-based Alex. Brown & Sons.
Although the Expresses lack indoor seating, they do have outdoor seats for about 30 people, said Evans, who added that more of the mini-restaurants are a possibility in the West.
McDonald’s opted for the smaller operation at the Navy site because there was no property available for a full-size restaurant, Evans said, and the company expects most customers there to purchase food to go.
Because of space limitations, the company will trim some items from the menu. Milkshakes won’t be served, for example, because there’s no room for the shake machines.
And Quarter Pounders will have to go because there isn’t enough room for storage and preparation of the McDonald’s mainstay.
Neither is there room for the machines that generate frozen yogurt and ice cream products. Instead, Evans said, the Express will offer ice cream bars or “novelty ice cream products like Dove or Snickers bars.”
In another departure, McDonald’s, which is synonymous with hamburgers among fast-food patrons, will offer hot dogs and chili dogs at the Express location.