Sometimes, you just know what you were made to do. Sometimes you don’t… and… in Priscilla Foster’s case, sometimes it just takes a little, well… time. Years of working on the software side of corporate America brought Foster to this point about 25 years ago. The travelling, the hotels, the airlines, the grind… it was taking something away from her, and definitely not fulfilling.
She grew up, like many of us, at a time when a place like McDonald’s was considered a treat. Good food, fast, and family time in an otherwise busy and changing world. As a college student travelling and studying abroad (back-packing her way around Europe), she found herself homesick at times and yearning for something… American. McDonald’s was her comfort zone, and her favorite food (not to mention inexpensive for a travelling student). “I would find myself comparing the chocolate shake at McDonald’s in Amsterdam with the one at a McDonald’s in Germany.”
Fast (food) forward a few years to her software stint, she found herself once again yearning for something more fulfilling, and closer to home. Enter McDonald’s. She decided to leave her corporate job and enter their 2 year training program, in the hopes of being offered a franchise here in Pittsburgh. This is where destiny came in to play. After completing the program, she was rewarded with her first franchise, a store location in Wexford, 24 years ago.
“Even though I lived in the South Hills and didn’t really know where Wexford was at the time, this was something you didn’t refuse.”
21 years later, as McDonald’s began to transition out of corporate-owned stores in the Pittsburgh area, she was offered 5 more locations over the next 3 years – additional locations are only offered to those franchise operators who show exemplary results. Now, along with the location in Wexford, she has locations in Shaler, West View, Bellevue and 2 on McKnight Road.
The north-bound location on McKnight Road is where I met Foster; they were debuting McDonald’s new fresh beef Quarter-Pound burgers. The event, organized by Kerry Ford Communications, included yours truly along with many other bloggers and media outlets from the Pittsburgh area. Why? McDonald’s has been on a quest to “Build a Better McDonald’s” for the last few years, beginning with the launch of “All Day Breakfast” which I found irresistable… and still do. Who doesn’t enjoy an Egg McMuffin at 2 PM?
Responding to feedback from thousands of customers, the move to fresh beef burgers is the latest in many customer-led initiatives. “Food is what matters most to our customers,” said Darren Roberts, another local franchise owner who attended the event, “and we are excited to serve fresh beef, cooked to order. Our customers now have more reasons to enjoy their favorite burger.”
Now, for the real test. I consider myself somewhat of a burger-afficionado… like most red-blooded American men. And I was in luck… not only were they offering a taste of these delicious treats, they were going to show us how they make them. Jackpot. Now… I know there’s an awful lot of dedicated people who’ve worked in McDonalds’ kitchens over the years, but I did not (I had a paper route)… so the kitchen at every McDonald’s was always a mystical place for me… just how did they produce 10 trillion french fries, all with the same crispy salty goodness, over and over? It had to be magic.
Wendy Boyd, from McDonald’s U.S. Operations, pulled back the curtain for us. First and foremost, food safety is a priority, and everyone knows that fresh “anything” has to be kept… fresh. Starting with a dedicated freezer kept at a regulated temperature (it even has some sort of gadgety thing that maintains the proper temp with the door open) to the timed grilling method that cooks the beef to the proper temperature every time, the process was organized, streamlined, quick and… well… McDonald’s.
The result? The best double Quarter-Pounder I’ve ever had. And some of those magical french fries.
We’ve seen dozens and dozens of upscale burger joints rise all over this town… so of course, there are choices. Nothing, however, makes someone hungry smile with comfort the way a quick trip to McDonald’s does, and now you can enjoy a fresh beef burger, cooked to order, any time. According to Foster, “McDonald’s is as American as… apple pie.”