4 Major Fast Food Chains Are Making Radical Changes Right Now – Don’t Eat This

While summer is usually a fun time for seasonal menu items at most fast food chains, in the past few months a number of major companies have announced plans to make big, long-term changes to their operations. Whether you’re a regular Chipotle or Subway fan, business as usual is about to change.

From an entirely new set of ownership rules to improving employee benefits, here’s a look at four major chains that are making significant changes to the way they operate.

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After announcing in May a new restaurant rating system, McDonald’s raised the ante last month with a new set of restaurant ownership rules.

Franchisees will be held to higher standards under the new rules, and with franchise applications and renewals subject to a more thorough review process in its decision to renew and award franchise agreements, McDonald’s will place more weight on performance history and customer complaints, and will be. Perform more store inspections.

The chain is also taking steps to phase out old franchises: Spouses and children of franchisees will no longer receive preferential treatment when applying to run their own restaurants, and will be treated as new candidates.

Outer subway restaurant
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The company unveiled its new Subway chain earlier this month — a slate of 12 new sandwiches the chain hopes will streamline operations at its stores.

While Subway is known for letting customers design their own sandwiches (and is credited with popularizing the customer-facing assembly line), the chain is taking a step further from customizing with the new menu, hoping to simplify business and increase sales.

The new menu comes on the heels of last year’s Eat Fresh, Refresh campaign, during which the chain updated its menu with new and updated ingredients.

Starbucks outside coffee
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After a tumultuous year for America’s largest coffee chain, it looks like big changes are brewing behind the scenes. In a recent open letter to employees, interim CEO Howard Schultz announced the arrival of “the next chapter of Starbucks’ renovation.” Seeking to prepare themselves “to develop behaviors, needs, and expectations.” [its] partners [and] customers,” the company appears to be rethinking its operations from the ground up.

Schultz has outlined plans for a transformed customer experience (the company promised more details on how to achieve this soon.) Starbucks will also rethink its relationship with its employees. In the face of a growing union movement that began last year, Starbucks is proposing a number of measures to satisfy its workers, including increasing investment in employee safety and increasing career advancement opportunities.

Chipotle outdoor restaurant
Miosotis_Jade / shutterstock

Like other fast food chains, Chipotle is investing heavily in automation and artificial intelligence. The burrito chain signed a deal in 2021 with self-driving delivery startup Nuro, and a few months ago unveiled “Chippy,” an AI-powered chip-making robot (it will be piloted at Chipotle later this year).

The company has also invested in AI-powered labor management tools, which have helped increase the efficiency of employees in its restaurants and train its employees. Recently, Chipotle announced Cultivate Next, a $50 million investment fund aimed at accelerating investment in labor-saving technologies and enhancing customer experience.

Owen Duff

Owen Duff is a freelance journalist based in Vermont, home of Ben & Jerry’s. Read more

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