Worth Knowing: Table service at McDonalds? Yup.

You can now get table service at two McDonalds restaurants in the Upper Valley. In the McDonalds locations in Woodsville, NH and White River Junction, VT, you can walk in and place your order at a kiosk. If you're reluctant to do it yourself, a cashier will walk you through the process. 

You can even customize your order - want to add cheddar cheese to your breakfast sandwich? You can do that.

When you finish placing your order, you'll pay by credit or debit card and then - if you're eating in - take a "table flag" and enter the number into your order.

If you're paying the old-fashioned way with cash, you can pay at the counter. You then go sit down at a table displaying your flag and a server will bring you your order. If your order is to go, your number will be called out for you to pick up at the counter.

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Customers in the White River Junction McDonalds seemed to be getting used to the digital kiosks. I even heard one person say she was excited because she had no idea she could customize any food at McDonalds. 

This is certainly a new twist on fast food dining at the Golden Arches. So why is McDonalds changing things up? Apparently the changes are being rolled out to increase in-store sales, prevent backups at the counter and provide speedier (and more pleasurable?) service to customers. McDonalds has been rolling out these changes since 2015. According to Business Insider, McDonalds plans to have digital kiosks installed in most of its 9,000 U.S. locations by 2020.

McDonalds isn't alone in making changes to the traditional ways that customers order and receive their food. Switching to digital kiosks is a trend that - along with mobile ordering apps - is catching on across the food service space. You can now order on line or via kiosk at many Paneras and Starbucks. 

Good or bad change? A common complaint against these kiosks and mobile apps (and any kind of automation) is that they've been implemented to take jobs and hours away from the already underpaid cashiers and to save the restaurants money in this day of ever rising labor costs. However, there is some data suggesting that chains like McDonalds are actually just  reallocating their limited labor supply behind the scenes. And there is no question that employers are struggling to hire and retain customer-facing employees. You can certainly see the help wanted signs all over the Upper Valley. In addition, it sure seems like fast food restaurants are trying all sorts of new things - from healthier offerings to easy ordering processes - to keep their customers coming.

If you are a McDonalds fan, go check out the new system and leave a comment below to let readers know how you feel about the changes.

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