Most fast food places these days have a TV or two mounted on the wall, so you can silently watch weather or the news while you’re downing your burger, but a McDonald’s in Virginia Beach is taking it to the next level by having iPads scattered about so you can surf the web, watch porn or play games with your greasy French fry fingers.
The popular Apple tablets perch on white stands at four tables, one of which holds two screens back-to-back. Customers can check Facebook pages, play a game or shop online while they dine.
“It’s a great idea to stay relevant, especially to a new generation,” said Hugh Fard, who opened the Lynnhaven Parkway restaurant about a week ago and owns 11 other McDonald’s in Virginia Beach. “People like to multitask, so why not provide that element for them?”
Fard’s addition of the iPad complements the company’s efforts to build a more modern image. Since 2003, the world’s largest hamburger chain has overhauled its menus and restaurant designs to appeal to customers whose tastes in food and technology are growing more sophisticated but who remain highly price-conscious.
Fard found the iPad idea in April while attending the annual worldwide McDonald’s convention in Florida. Visiting with his colleagues from McDonald’s Europe, he discovered a French company that had developed an iPad feature for about 20 locations from Paris to Budapest.
Immediately, Fard wanted to bring it to his restaurant, but he needed approval from McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill. It took months to win the go-ahead of the parent company.
Fard leases the five iPads from the French company’s local contractor, which maintains them and will replace them if any are stolen. And he insisted on some limitations that he thought suited the Hampton Roads market. For example, he blocked the YouTube website because some of its content verged on pornography, he said.
McDonald’s has no plans at this time to roll out the iPads to other locations or offer the option to other franchisees, said Jon Burke, the chain’s regional marketing manager. For six to eight months, the company will watch how Fard’s system works.