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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Something new brewing only at Greencastle McDonald's

Friday, April 29, 2011

Going over the operations of the McCafe section of the Greencastle McDonald's, region manager Bobby Hopper explains the process to one of the newly hired baristas, Cheyanne Maddox.
You can gobble down an Egg McMuffin at any of 14,000 McDonald's restaurants. You can grab your McNuggets from Toledo to Tokyo. And special sauce and sesame-seed buns come on every Big Mac from Calcutta to Cloverdale.

But only in Greencastle can you order your coffee and specialty drinks right from a fulltime barista.

It is part of a new McCafe concept that began this week at the 940 Indianapolis Rd. location.

Jedele Enterprises Inc., which owns the Greencastle McDonald's (along with stores in Cloverdale, Mooresville, Brazil and two in Crawfordsville), has hired a half-dozen new employees designated as baristas, or someone trained in the art of drink making (think non-alcoholic bartender).

And that move is unique to the Greencastle McDonald's.

"We're excited about being the first to do it," offered barista Alycia Love as she prepared a tray of sample-size frozen strawberry lemonades and McCafe frappes to pass out to customers.

Love, a Greencastle High School senior by day, explained that her McCafe specialist/barista duties involve making and dispensing drinks, including those for the drive-through as necessary.

One thing you will not see is the baristas -- conspicuous in their brownie-scout brown shirts -- doing routine tasks like filling orders for the front counter or running to the deep fryer every time it buzzes because the fries are done.

McDonald's region manager Bobby Hopper calls it a business-within-a-business concept.

"It's a coffee shop within a McDonald's," notes Hopper, who was recently promoted from general manager at the local restaurant to his new position with Jedele Enterprises. "We're enhancing that approach and taking it to a different level.

"We know there's not a Starbucks nearby but that doesn't mean you have to drive to Plainfield to get a good cup of coffee or order a specialty drink. You can get that here and enjoy it all the way on your drive to Indianapolis or Terre Haute."

Where the Greencastle McCafe will differ from other stores (especially when remodeling is undertaken in August) is how the baristas are used and future development of the concept. The latter includes the addition of a rolling lemonade stand that will be used on site and off to dispense drinks.

"It's our idea and we're running with it," Hopper said. "It's not happening at any other McDonald's."

Corporate eyes are watching, too.

"McDonald's is very interested in what we are doing and watching very closely to see how it develops," Hopper added.

The upcoming expansion project will update the building décor, bumping out the front to encompass the landscaped, grassy area to the north of the present facility. The west side of the building will also get an addition and the parking lot will be expanded to the west, eliminating the small retention pond in the process.

The new McCafe concept isn't the first time the local McDonald's has stood out in the corporate sphere of operations.

So-called Super Saturday competitions routinely find the Greencastle site No. 1 in the region and in the top 20 nationally. The competition is based on transaction counts and speed of service, including front counter, drive-through and kitchen times.

It is a badge of honor to Hopper and his 70-plus employees, and helps explain why Greencastle diners continue to beat a path to their door.

"Our speed of service, I think people are drawn to that," Hopper explained. "Over the last three years we have decreased our average service time by 30 seconds. That's huge in our business. That's pretty incredible really.

"From the time you place your order and say 'I want ...' until the time I hand you the bag (or tray) and say 'Thank you ...' it's 127 seconds. Two minutes, seven seconds. That's amazing.

"And it's them, not me," Hopper adds, gesturing at the McDonald's crew all around him.

And now it is the McCafe specialists' turn to make a name for themselves in Greencastle.

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