McDonald’s Canada Expanding Walk-Up Window Service Concept with Pedestrians Prioritized [Interview/Renderings]

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McDonald’s is opening its latest walk-up window service restaurant in Calgary’s University District mixed-use neighbourhood as the fast-food chain continues to explore unique ways to reach consumers.

Alex Jones, Head of National Real Estate & Development, for McDonald’s, said in an email that construction is underway and the restaurant is expected to open in November.

Alex Jones

“The restaurant will be 4,000 square feet and features a full-sized lobby, a full-sized modern kitchen and specialized service areas to focus on delivery, digital, dine-in and walk-up guests,” he said. 

“The restaurant features a walk-up window instead of the traditional Drive-Thru due to the high foot traffic at University District. It is not uncommon to include walk-up windows in urban areas as they are typically reserved for downtown style sites and smaller storefront style restaurants. However, this McDonald’s will have a full-sized lobby, a full-sized modern kitchen and specialized service areas to focus on delivery, digital, dine-in and walk-up guests.

“Given the nature of the restaurant and the community it serves, it features a walk-up window prioritizing delivery, digital and dine-in for guests. This location does not include a Drive-Thru.”

Image: McDonalds Canada (Maj Mack)

The University District, located just west of the University of Calgary campus and close to the Alberta Children’s Hospital and Market Mall, is a 200-acre community with housing being built for several thousand residents as well as retail, food and beverage and commercial real estate uses.

“These walk-up style restaurants are common for McDonald’s restaurants in Canada in vibrant, urban centres that cater to businesses and students. We’ve seen great success with similar restaurants in student-first areas like McDonald’s UBC location in Vancouver and the new restaurant downtown Kingston, Ontario at Princess and Division,” said Jones. “At McDonald’s restaurants, we want to meet guests where they are and provide an easy, seamless, and convenient experience. Since University District is a vibrant community with high foot traffic, the walk-up style restaurant was the right fit for this community.

“The storefront inspired restaurants are especially common in urban areas where we see a higher demand for walk-up service and delivery, namely student and business areas. They feature specialized service areas to focus on delivery, digital, dine in and walk-up guests.

“The past couple of years have taught us that our guests want options when it comes to how they get their McDonald’s favourites. As a leader in delivery and as part of our digital transformation, we will continue to explore restaurant concepts that will allow us to better accommodate our guests in vibrant, urban city centres.”

Rendering: McDonalds Canada
Usman Tahir Jutt

Usman Jutt, McDonald’s Calgary franchisee, said the restaurant is designed with students in mind. 

“The walk-up design will provide a one-of-a-kind, easy and convenient place for people to grab all of their favourites from McDonald’s,” he said.

“We have always believed in delivering an exceptional community experience each step of the way in University District, so we are excited to be home to a walk-up McDonald’s,” said Maureen Henderson, VP of Community Experience, with the University of Calgary Properties Group which is spearheading the University District development.

Maureen Henderson

“Whether it’s a student on the go, a nearby employee looking for a quick meal break, or a group of seniors meeting up for a weekly coffee, McDonald’s will provide convenient options for everyone to enjoy wherever they wish. It’s a perfect complement to our innovative community design, and we are confident McDonald’s will feel right at home in U/D.”

Canada’s first McDonald’s restaurant was in 1967 in Richmond, British Columbia. It has about 1,400 Canadian restaurants today.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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