Say goodbye to filling your own soda cup at McDonald's.

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Eliminating Self-Service Beverage Stations

The popular burger chain, headquartered in Chicago, has announced that it will gradually remove its self-service beverage stations from all dining areas in the U.S. By 2032, the stations will be completely eliminated.

The decision to eliminate the stations is linked to the rise in takeout orders. McDonald's hopes to offer a consistent experience to customers across all its ordering options.

“McDonald’s will be transitioning away from self-serve beverage stations in dining rooms across the U.S. by 2032,” the company said in a statement. “The change is intended to create a consistent experience for both customers and crew across all ordering points, whether that’s McDelivery, the app, kiosk, drive-thru or in-restaurant.”

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Only Dine-In Customers Will Notice The Change

McDonald's has allowed its customers to serve themselves soft drinks for decades, in a manner similar to many convenience stores. This self-service system enabled customers who dine in to have smaller beverages but still easily get refills, thereby improving the value of their purchase.

However, this benefit has become less relevant as an increasing proportion of the chain's business is shifting towards takeout. Even before the pandemic, over two-thirds of the company's business came through the drive-thru. This has only increased since the pandemic.

Additionally, more of the restaurant's business generated from inside is now being ordered through takeout channels, like delivery or mobile orders.

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Following A Trend

The shift follows a larger trend in the fast-food industry toward new business models and alternative service options, as more customers come through channels other than the traditional dining room. Some companies are exploring digital-only restaurants or restaurants without seating. They are introducing self-order kiosks inside their restaurants or offering mobile-order lanes or pickup windows outside.

Other companies are experimenting with their menus, such as Panera Bread, which has conducted trials to reduce the size of its menu.

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