As most of you are aware, the quality of a chain restaurant varies widely from location to location. Especially in chains that are franchised out. But you can avoid the bad McDonald's and only eat at the good McDonald's if you look for some clues.
These same tips apply to other chains as well, such a Burger King.
McDonald's to Avoid
First let me go over which McDonald's you should avoid.
Avoid any McDonald's that looks old, especially if it looks like it needs a facelift. For the most part, these McDonald's are owned by a franchisee that has made his money a long time ago and is now sitting back and enjoying the checks rolling in every month. Usually the franchise owner has lost interest or doesn't care anymore (as long as the checks keep rolling in), which means that the restaurant is now managed by a young manager that doesn't have any incentive to run a good restaurant. After all, if the owner doesn't care, why should the manager or staff? Usually the quality of food at these locations is very low. So avoid any McDonald's that looks old and not taken care of.
Other McDonald's to avoid are ones located at universities, airports, downtown, certain tourist areas, and other areas where there is limited access to food services. At these locations, the food may be good, but the prices are inflated. Some locations have inflated prices because their rent is higher (e.g. airports), other locations have higher prices simply because they know they have a captive audience (e.g. universities). And some locations it is a combination of the two. For the most part, in my experience, the food is usually of good quality, but the prices are definitely higher than average. And they tend to not have the specials offered at the other locations.
McDonald's that are Good
Usually brand new McDonald's are pretty good. The franchise owners have invested a lot of money in their new restaurant and they want to see a profit. So the owners tend to be a little more concerned with quality and customer satisfaction. They know if the customers are not satisfied, the customers won't come back. And that means the owners could possibly lose their investment or it may take a really long time to get their money back. So quality tends to be good at these locations.
There are exceptions. For example, a Burger King opened downtown Houston last year. Apparently the owners thought it would be a success automatically. And for the first 2 weeks, it was packed. Then people never came back. The food was bad, the Cokes were watered down, and the service was horrible. But then again, it was a downtown fast food chain, which is the type that should be avoided. Even though it was new, the fact that it was downtown made the franchise owners think they had easy money on their hands. Boy were they wrong.
The McDonald's that are combined with a gas stations (e.g. Chevron) are pretty good. I haven't found one to be bad. At first I didn't like the idea of gas and food at one location, but after eating at several locations that combined a gas station and McDonald's, I've been impressed. The food quality is good to excellent*.
*We are talking about McDonald's food. If we are comparing McDonald's to McDonald's, then it is possible to say one has excellent food compared to another. If we are comparing McDonald's food with any other restaurant, well, McDonald's food is, well, McDonald's food. Not the best in the world, but it is fast and well know and kids like it.
McDonald's Quality highly depends on the location. But overall, if you are careful, you can experience the best possible McDonald's meal. Just think, if you don't like McDonald's food, how do you think you would feel eating a poorly prepared and bad quality McDonald's meal! If you are going to eat at McDonald's, you might as well eat at the good ones!
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