OAK BROOK, Ill. -- McDonald's Corp.  plans to grow its U.S. market share in 2014 through new initiatives based around customization  and speed of service, according to a Nation's Restaurant News report . These include testing "build-your-own" burgers in southern California and Illinois, and adding a third drive-thru window to rebuilt or newly built restaurants.
Both tests are part of McDonald's plans to expand its menu and increase speed of service through the adoption of "high-density" prep tables, which are capable of holding dozens of fresh sandwich ingredients and designed to improve kitchen efficiency. The company plans to have the tables installed at its more than 14,000 U.S. locations by next year.
"We're ensuring that our kitchens are ready to deliver," Kevin Newell, McDonald's chief brand and strategy officer for the United States, said last week during the company's every-other-year "Investor Day" meeting. "These tables will allow us to do two very important things: offer greater customization by accommodating more ingredients, and improve overall speed of service by improving the overall design and efficiency of the prep table."
During the meeting, McDonald's USA President Jeff Stratton stated that the company will decrease its number of U.S. remodels to 300 in 2014, instead prioritizing the new kitchen equipment rollout for McDonald's and its franchisees.
McDonald's restaurants that are testing the build-your-own burger option allow customers to choose toppings for a quarter-pound cheeseburger from a list of 20 options. Customers input their selections using an iPad menu. The concept was tested last month in Romeo, Ill., and began a new test last week in Laguna Niguel, Calif., according to McDonald's spokeswoman Lisa McComb.
"It is too soon to tell whether these concepts or something similar would be rolled out nationally," McComb wrote in an email to the news outlet. "These tests represent just one aspect of our broader menu innovation journey."
Finally, McDonald's said it will add the "Fast Forward Drive-Thru" to new and rebuilt restaurants next year. The third window would allow customers to pull up to it if they need to wait longer for a certain item, and could accommodate orders for premium items that take slightly longer to prepare, such as Premium McWraps, according to the report.