America’s Favorite Fast-Food Chain Is Opening 500 U.S. Locations

McDonald’s has had a successful year end on its home turf, despite the slower recovery of its European business, which dampened their overall recovery from the pandemic. While the mega-popular fast-food chain’s global same-store sales fell by 1.3%, the U.S. same-store sales grew by 5.5% in the fourth quarter of 2020 thanks to strong holiday and drive-thru sales.

McDonald’s plans to keep the U.S. momentum going by expanding both its menu (hello, new chicken sandwiches!) and global and domestic footprint. In an earnings call on Thursday, McDonald’s chief financial officer Kevin Ozan said the company plans to add 1,300 new restaurant locations around the world, with about 500 of those locations opening in the U.S. (Related: The Saddest Restaurant Closures In Your State.)

“Of the $2.3 billion of capital, we’ll spend roughly half of that to open nearly 500 restaurants in the U.S. and IOM segments,” Ozan said, adding that an additional $500 million will go toward modernizing about 1,200 U.S. McDonald’s locations. It’s still unknown where the new restaurants will be located.

The fast-food giant announced it also plans to double down on digital, delivery, and drive-thru operations—the parts of their business that drove significant sales during the pandemic—which means we can expect the upgraded and new McDonald’s locations to cater to these types of contactless transactions.

Back in November, the company revealed it was testing new express lines for customers who place digital orders ahead of time, as well as dedicated pickup spots and automated ordering, which are supposed to make order fulfillment faster than ever. While the chain managed to shave an impressive 25 seconds off their drive-thru service time last year by simplifying the menu, McDonald’s still sees room for improvement.

“There continues to be a big focus on drive-thru operations, especially because we’ve seen drive-thru continue to be a bigger percentage of our business,” said Ozan. “There’s still opportunity to continue reducing those service times.”

To find out more about what McDonald’s has in store for this year, check out McDonald’s Is Making These 8 Major Upgrades. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to get the latest restaurant news delivered straight to your inbox.

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