Wednesday, November 22, 2017


Place: McDonald's
Lunch: McRibble, fries, Fanta Orange

PREVIOUSLY ON THE LUNCHTIME SOCIAL: Val was committed after suffering yet another breakdown when Gary left her for Olivia.  Karen befriended the new neighbors, not realizing they were serial killers.  Greg sold The Sumner Group and feigned dementia in an elaborate plot that made no sense.  And Sam had a McRibble and played with the McDonald's app order process.

The McDonald's by the Townhouse of Solitude just finished a major and badly needed remodel.  The building was a hybrid convenience store.  The convenience store part closed years ago.  McDonald's now has possession of the whole building and has expanded the dining room and its waaay super nicer decor into the convenience store space and added a PlayPlace.  It also has all the latest McTech, including self-order kiosks.

Lets PLAY!

The Girl With Pink Hair greets the incoming and encourages everyone to self-order.  The kiosk screen is FREAKING HUGE.  The screen itself may well be three feet tall.

"Do you need any help?" asks The Girl With Pink Hair.

"No, I'll figure it out."

The screen encourages me to touch it.  Isn't that how all those celebrities got into trouble?  Upon touching, the standby screen disappears and food options appear.  You can pick types of sandwiches (burgers, chicken & fish, other) or choose the Extra Value meals menu.  I go for that, looking for the McRib deal, but the McRib doesn't exist.  Fine.  I go back to the main menu and try Chicken & Fish.  Nope.  Other?  No.  Look, McRib season can't possibly be over already.  I give up and pull up burgers and...oh, there it is.

When you choose the two McRib's (where you get the second for a buck), it automatically makes it a combo because that's part of the deal.  Why isn't this under the Extra Value menu?  Because it's becoming apparent the people behind the kiosk and app software have no idea what they're doing.

I accidentally order two combos.  So I hit Cancel and start over.  The Girl With Pink Hair, who apparently has been peering over my shoulder this whole time, says "Oh nooooooo!"

I start over and complete the transaction.  The thing asks you to choose your drink because I suppose you're not getting a cup from the kiosk, but I'm wrong.  There's cups right by the kiosks.  You're apparently on the honor system to choose the right size or if you even bought a drink in the first place.  The Girl With Pink Hair hands me the proper cup.  You also need to choose a plastic table number and tell the machine what number you took.  Total process...about 800 times longer than walking up to a human cashier and saying "McRib deal."

You can customize items to a limited degree, probably even less so than with the aop.

Also new is the drink fountain.  The big part that usually has the Coca Cola logo is a touch screen that you swipe through drink options.  Select an option. touch it, and soda flows into your cup.

My food arrives at my table and I eat while watching all the kids in here.  Some are in pajamas.  No idea why.

The hardware's there.

The software needs help.

Friday, November 17, 2017


Place: McDonald's
Lunch: McRibble, fries, Coke

For those who don't remember, a McRibble is the term I coined for when you buy a McRib Extra Value Meal with a second McRib for $1 special, then remove the bottom buns and fold the sandwiches together to make one double McRib.  Try to keep up, class.

Our local McDonald's stores have added mobile ordering through the McDonald's app.  I've played with the app but haven't actually used it yet because I don't really see the point.

I am an avid app user for some other chains, most notably for Taco Bell, because you can make crazy customizations to anything on the menu without locking up the brains of the counter help.  I also use the app for Which Wich.  Customize your sandwich, pay, walk into the store, go back to the Pick Up, give your name, they hand you the sandwich, walk out.  Awesome.

But customization on the McDonald's app is seriously limited.  They give you a list of the standard ingredients on each item and you can remove them or add extra to SOME of them.  For example, forget adding extra beef patties.  You can add extra cheese to cheeseburgers...up to three slices (why would you limit something you're charging extra per slice for?)...and for some reason five on the Filet-O-Fish, but I can't, for example, add cheese to a McRib.  Then they have a Condiments tab where you can add a very limited number of specific things to each sandwich.  One of the options is usually that condiment known as "Bacon".  Finally, there's a "Special Requests" tab.  That usually has one option..."Plain".

It's not even the same over all sandwiches.  I can add mayo to most of the burgers, but I can't to the Filet-O-Fish, even though they make ketchup an option on it.  And by the way, who would put ketchup on a Filet-O-Fish?  I don't even want to know you.

The really annoying thing is that you can't substitute cheddar cheese for American cheese.  It's back there in the kitchen.  They have sandwiches with cheddar on the menu all day.  Why can't I have a Quarter Pounder with Cheddar?

It's like somebody at corporate decided "I'll let people have this and that, but not this" on each specific sandwich.

If I want to build a Big Mac with McChicken patties or even sausage breakfast patties, why can't I?  I want to be able to Frankenstein up any concoction I can think of with the available ingredients on hand.

So don't expect me to use the app with any regularity.  Elderly Counter Guy and Wilford Brimley Lookalike Rod will just have to keep taking my orders the old fashioned way.  It's not like I customize anything at McDonald's anyway.

But I look forward to seeing what I can eventually concoct on the Whataburger app.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Place: B-Bops
Lunch: Classic single (no lettuce, no tomato), chili (w/cheese & onion), Pepsi (because I suck at being a no good worthless rotten diabetic)

B-Bops is our local version of the double drive-thru discount burger joint that was such a fad in the late 80's and early 90's that featured loaded quarter-pound burgers for 99 cents.  Most of these chains nationally have all but died off, but this market is so backwards that the concept continues to thrive.  Heck, we still have two operating K-Marts, a Bonanza, AND a Bennigan's.  We're about a Shakey's Pizza away from being a living retail history museum, and we even had one of the last of those outside of California.  It was even on the frontage of one of the K-Marts.

This location is brand new but foregoes the double drive-thru in favor of a standard fast food building with a single drive-thru and an indoor dining room.  B-Bops had to conform to the design standards of the uppity development this store is located in but wanted to keep their fun retro style, and the result is a mishmash of hideousness.  The building looks like a re-purposed 70's Taco Bueno, but painted in white, black, blue, yellow, red (a fake "neon" pinstripe)'s just awful.  There's fake arched window framing painted black along the drive-thru lane

It's also instantly popular.  The joint is jumping.  Nice to have a B-Bops nearby where you don't have to eat in your car in the winter.

Aside from price increases (that 99 cent quarter-pound burger of the past is currently $3.59), B-Bops hasn't changed much.  They make a good charbroiled burger and one of the better fast food chilis.  They have the usual alternate options like chicken and what not.

Keep it simple.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Blazing Pizzas

Place: Blaze Pizza
Lunch: Create-Your-Own (Pepperoni, Italian sausage, Italian meatball, mushrooms, black olives, mozzarella, feta, creamy white sauce), blood orange lemonade

Blaze opened recently in Wichita and I found it favorable so when I found myself wandering the older upscale mall in town wishing to myself we had one here while WALKING RIGHT BY ONE RIGHT THERE IN THE FREAKING MALL, it was sort of magical.  Why can't I have this power with Steak n Shake?

So it's now in the regular lunch rotation.

Blaze is basically Pie Five with pizzas that are on fire, as they're baked in an "artisan" pizza oven with visible flames.  I like Blaze's earthy thin crust, but I prefer Pie Five's red sauce.

I get in line.  And stand there.  And stand there.  Seemingly a dozen people are working, but they're busy with other pizzas.  One guy is training another guy.  One guess who will end up making my pizza.

Yep.  Trainee.

"What kind of sauce do you want?"

"Creamy white."  I haven't had this before.  I usually get their Spicy Red.  Their regular red sauce isn't very good.  But hey, new things...

Training Guy very specifically instructs him how to specifically fill exactly the amount of sauce into the ladle, and how to correctly spread it on the crust.  Then Training Guy ceases paying attention completely.

"What kind of cheese do you want?"

"Mozzarella, and a little feta," I reply before realizing I actually wanted Parmesan.  Oops.  Oh well.

One of the failings of Blaze is they don't have cheddar or provolone cheese.  All the best pizza places use a mixture of mozzarella, cheddar, and provolone.  ALL of them.

While I'm drifting off thinking about cheese, Training Guy re-appears, mumbles something about my pie, and THROWS IT IN THE TRASH.  WHAT THE HELL, MAN.  I've already been here longer than it takes to actually be handed a cooked pizza.  Now we're starting over?  My lunch hour isn't that long.  It's an HOUR.

He produces another crust and makes Trainee start over, with more specialized instructions.  Sauce.  Mozzarella.  "Oh, he wanted some feta too."

Me: "Uh, actually..."

Too late.

He asks for my meats and proceeds to put on the fewest pepperonis on a pizza I've ever seen.  Then I get my other toppings.  Then I get oregano and sea salt.  The pizza goes into the oven of FIRE.  I go to pay the cashier.  Except there isn't one.

Still isn't one.


Oh...there she is.

Blaze has a Coke fountain and some other specialty drinks that includes a blood orange lemonade, which is my drink of preference.  On an earlier visit, an elderly customer questioned me on what exactly it was, but decided he was too chicken (his words) to try it.

My pizza is ready.  It's very white.  And very salty.  Like REALLY SUPER SALTY.  Like the trainee put on way too much salt, as I've had the salt added before and it wasn't this bad.  Unless the creamy sauce is also salty.  I might try this pizza again without the sea salt.

Still delicious.

We were supposed to get a Pie Five near the office, but it was canceled.  I'd prefer that to Blaze, but this is a fine consolation.