Meet the McDonald's Nutrition-Information Kiosk, Texas Style

McDonald's franchise owners often are as savvy as brand executives, and perhaps a shade more entrepreneurial. Witness the case of the owner of three McDonald's franchises in suburban Dallas-Ft. Worth, whose better-for-you innovation could ripple throughout the chain.

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No, it's not an unauthorized menu item like some smokin'-hot Texas barbecue version of McRib. And it may not be as high-tech as the design concept being piloted by McD's in France. What Jonathan Chan devised is an interactive nutritional kiosk that helps visitors to his restaurant in Richardson, Texas, to understand the nutritional value, or lack thereof, of everything on the menu and even to assist in planning their meals.

This is a far cry from the cursory attention that most fast-food chains have given the notion of helping customers easily figure out the nutrition question. The industry isn't far removed from the days when QSR operators would grudgingly have some flyer available that would explain obtusely, and often in fine print, the "nutrition characteristics" of their offerings. Chan apparently is one restaurateur who has figured out -- perhaps in this case ahead of his franchisor -- how to turn this issue into a draw.

Designed by vendor QA Graphics, the kiosk allows customers to review menu items and nutritional information on a 42-inch LCD screen; see images of products along with a nutritional breakdown of them regarding calories, sodium, and other specifics; and how to choose McDonald's menu items as part of an overall healthy diet. Even when it comes to items that arguably have little nutritional value, consumers obviously feel better just having the information.

"It was important to me to take the initiative in providing nutritional information before it was law-mandated," Chan commented in QA Graphics' press release. "At first, I was concerned about a negative response from consumers; that the information may turn them away from ordering certain menu items. But there hasn't been a negative effect at all. In fact, it's been 100-percent positive, and at times has served as an opportunity to start a conversation with our customers."

Chan also figured that the sleek nutrition-information station would fit in nicely at the location's redesigned interior, in keeping with McDonald's global redesign.

According to QA's press release,

This is the third privately-owned McDonald's franchise that QA Graphics has worked with. They also worked with two LEED® certified McDonald's franchises to help them inform customers about their sustainable initiatives. For these projects, QA Graphics provided their award-winning Energy Efficiency Education Dashboard®, an educational kiosk that customers can interact with to learn why the restaurants are sustainable. QA Graphics offers a number of design solutions for restaurants, quick serve restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores, retail outlets and others, including nutritional kiosks, digital menu boards, mobile applications for Apple iOS (iPhone/iPad/iTouch), Android and BlackBerry devices, and other multimedia.

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