Lexington Park, MD – McDonald’s Corporation announced Tuesday, Aug. 14, that it will be investing approximately $104 million into 135 restaurants throughout Maryland. The money will be used for the “construction and modernization of McDonald’s restaurants, transforming the customer experience inside and outside the restaurant,” corporate officials stated.

The improvements included in the “modernization” will be, remodeling the restaurants inside and out, enhanced menu boards inside and at the drive-through, curbside pick-up spaces, and self-order kiosks. These changes will be implemented “across the state” and the degree of remodeling will be “dependent on the restaurant,” according to McDonald’s DC Metro Area Brand Reputation Manager Steve Kramer.

This initiative is a part of McDonald’s Corporation’s much broader goal to invest $6 billion to modernize all McDonald’s U.S. restaurants by 2020.

The self-order kiosks, which are one of the key parts of the modernization, have become a point of contention among many, including Ed Rensi — retired president and CEO of McDonald’s USA. In an article published July 11, 2018, on Forbes.com, Rensi detailed his concern that automation will eliminate minimum wage positions from McDonald’s, potentially hindering one’s ability to progress up the corporate ladder by knocking out the bottom rung. Rensi explains his humble beginnings at the company stating, “Without my opportunity to start as a grill man, I would have never ended up running one of the largest fast food chains in the world.”

Contrary to Rensi’s interpretation of the kiosks, McDonald’s has stated that their intent is not to limit the number of workers but instead to move those who would be cashiers into different positions. In a statement to Business Insider, one McDonald’s spokeswoman stated that “[McDonald’s] CEO Steve Easterbrook has said on many occasions that self-order kiosks in McDonald’s restaurants are not a labor replacement. They provide an opportunity to transition back-of-the-house positions to more customer service roles such as concierges and table service where they are able to truly engage with guests and enhance the dining experience.”

The debate over the impact of automation is as old as the cotton gin and have done little to nothing to halt the progress of automation. It remains to be seen how Southern Maryland’s residents and its economy adjust to this new implementation of technology in the near future.

For more information on the other states McDonald’s will be investing in or on the details of their investment, see their original post on their web site here.

Contact Jerold Massie at staffwriter@thebaynet.com.