I’m a fan of McDonald’s generally speaking. Yes, they’re no KFC and it beats me why there aren’t more superb Taco Bells across our great nation, but when you’re out and about, you can usually rely on Maccy D’s to supply you with a quick, tasty, burger and chips.
We often find ourselves out and about in Northallerton due to children’s sports so the news that a set of the famous golden arches was going to be erected in the town was greeted with a “that will be useful”.
A few weeks ago we were in North Yorkshire’s county town on a Tuesday evening in need of tea and remembered that the new branch was now open, so we popped along.
It was a mistake. Dystopian hellhole is too strong. It’s an exaggeration. Hyperbole if you like. But it was an unpleasant experience. First, you’ve got the lighting which is so bright that a surgeon could perform highly complex heart surgery on a patient on one of the plastic tables and not proclaim that “they can’t see a damn thing”. Then you’ve got the customers. Once upon a time, teenagers used to hang out at youth clubs, or “youthie” as we called the twice-weekly sessions of indoor football and light petting that we attended at the Wensleydale School in the late 80s.
Now, they go to fast-food takeaways and nurse a milkshake for a couple of hours. Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind teenagers. We’ve got one of our own. It’s just when you’ve got 20 or 30 in a room without parental supervision it can be a bit stressful for parents with a ten-year-old, who has probably heard the C and F words before but we’d rather she didn’t hear them together and sandwiching a homophobic slur while she’s tucking into her happy meal. It’s just not very relaxing.
The new Northallerton branch also doesn’t seem very big and seems to be mostly taken up with self-service machines. Is it just me or does McDonald’s no longer seem that fast food either. We waited a good ten minutes for our order. In the great scheme of things that isn’t a disaster, but it seemed a long time when we’re surrounded by Sweary Mary kids and other customers getting impatient about their wait too.
What I found particularly frustrating was when we could see our food had been prepared and was waiting on the rack to be given to us but that didn’t happen for several minutes, meaning the chips got cooler and the ice cream got warmer. As well as self-service ordering, maybe self-service grabbing food that’s going cold might be a good system too.
I appreciate I’m coming across as a bit of a grump and there were some positives to the experience. The toilets were very clean for example and, when I complained that a ring donut was a bit stale, the manager agreed, apologised and refunded me very quickly.
Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood and it’s my own fault for not getting drive-thru and sitting in the car to eat like travelling salesmen keen to get to their next call. You can also now order in the car park from the app and have staff bring you your order, which is quite neat to be fair.
I also think allowances should be made for the branch only just opening and staff still learning their roles. Interestingly, a couple of weeks later week we got fish and chips from Bradleys in Northallerton and the experience was faultless. Quick service, friendly staff, great food and cheap as, er, chips. Customers also waited without dropping any F bombs which I appreciated.
McDonald’s, 7 Radcliffe Court, Northallerton, DL6 2LZ.
- Food: 3
- Surroundings: 2
- Service: 2
- Value for money: 4