McDonald’s will have 44 locations in the Washington area by the end of the year, with 26 operated and 12 franchised. (The company’s footprint in Washington, D.C., is 130, and 51 are operated.) The company is investing hundreds of millions in its Washington-area restaurants, with $450 million in 2018 alone, said Anne Bologna, McDonald’s chief operating officer of company restaurants. But it’s because the McDonald’s brand has changed so much in recent years that it must change its own restaurant model to reach the future.
“We don’t operate the way we did 25 years ago,” Bologna said. The Food and Drug Administration requires a series of tests for ingredients before a restaurant can obtain a safety clearance, which she said is like “building a house with no insurance.” Consumers are demanding healthier food and simpler menus, and McDonald’s has responded: She said the company launched a kiosk-based ordering system at hundreds of restaurants and plans to roll it out nationwide next year. The menu, she said, “has to be very Darwinian.”