McDonald’s self-serve beverage machines will be a thing of the past—eventually at least. 

The burger giant revealed that it plans to remove all drinking stations from dining rooms nationwide by 2032. Refills will still be available, but customers will have to ask an employee. 

“This 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 restaurant,” the company said in a statement to media. 

Dining room traffic has decreased significantly since COVID arrived three-and-a-half years ago, and McDonald’s is no exception. Part of the chain’s overall Accelerating the Arches strategy is the 3Ds—digital, delivery, and drive-thru. Digital mixes nearly 40 percent in the chain’s top six markets. The MyMcDonald’s Rewards program is in more than 50 markets worldwide; signups are growing in the high-single digits, and more than 52 million were active in the past 90 days back in late July. 

McDonald’s is even working on new prototypes to meet the new era of convenience, like the one in Fort Worth, Texas, that has a mobile order lane and a delivery pickup room for couriers. Another small format concept is coming up in 2024. 

The State Journal-Register in Springfield, Illinois, said some restaurants have already initiated the change. Franchisees told the publication that the new beverage system behind the counter will be automated and that new cups will be used for refills. In addition to a major switch to off-premises, the change is in response to food safety, eliminating theft, and “creating a more relaxed dine-in experience complete with servers delivering meals to the table,” The State Journal-Register reported. 

Operator Brad Davis—who owns six franchised restaurants in Springfield and has one store serving as a test location—told The State Journal-Register that “It was an adjustment for customers and staff, but we didn’t get too many complaints on it.”

Fast Food, Story, McDonald's