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McDonald’s plans to eliminate self-service soda stations at all of its restaurants

Say goodbye to refilling that Coke. McDonald’s is getting rid of self-serve soda.

McDonald’s confirmed this week that the Chicago-based fast food chain plans to eliminate self-service soda machines at its US restaurants by 2032. It’s unclear whether locations outside the US will follow suit.

In an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday, McDonald’s USA said the goal of the change is to create uniformity across the chain’s offerings to customers and crew members — from in-person dining to online delivery and drive-thru options.

The company did not specify whether any additional factors – such as finances or hygiene – influenced its decision to move away from self-service machines. For years, McDonald’s customers have been using the machines to fill and refill their beverages without making an extra trip to the cashier.

Behind-the-counter soda machines are already in place at some other fast food chains — and the change has also begun at some McDonald’s locations across the country. Several locations in Illinois, for example, are starting to phase out self-serve sodas, according to The State Journal-Register, which first reported on the company’s plans last week.

In recent years, analysts have also pointed to changes in consumer behavior since the COVID pandemic – including a surge in digital and online delivery sales among fast food restaurants. As a result, some chains have worked to increase drive-thru or strengthen connections with food delivery apps — from Chipotle increasing its Carside Pickup locations to Domino’s planning a new partnership with Uber Eats.

McDonald’s digital sales — made up of apps, delivery and kiosk purchases — accounted for about 40% of systemwide sales for the second quarter of 2023. Revenue for the period rose 14% to $6.5 billion, the chain reported in July, and net income nearly doubled for the quarter to $2.3 billion — more than analysts expected.

Some of those gains may wane a bit in the second half of the year. Chief Financial Officer Ian Borden said during a July second-quarter earnings call that while price increases have helped boost McDonald’s sales in recent quarters, they will decline as inflation eases.


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