Fast food doesn’t have to be bad food

Franchisee Nigel Dunnington
Franchisee Nigel Dunnington
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Healthy eating campaigners are determined to tackle what is seen as Britain’s obesity crisis.

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and others have been calling for a “sugar tax” on fizzy drinks.

Businessman Nigel Dunnington agrees.

But what may surprise people is that Nigel is a fast food boss who holds the franchise for 11 McDonald’s restaurants in Lancashire.

He is passionate about quality produce and letting customers know exactly what is in what they are eating and drinking.

Nigel is adamant that McDonald’s is open and transparent about what it serves – and where it comes from.

In his personal opinion, he agrees with the “sugar tax”, even though it could lead to higher prices which could deter customers around Lancashire.

“People need educating. I understand what the Government and others are is trying to do. I am concerned about obesity.

“They have to find a way to inform people about what they are eating . We will have to see how we deal with it – maybe it should be McDonald’s decision. Maybe we need to evolve the menu and set the standard.”

Evolving is something that Nigel knows all about.

He started as trainee manager at McDonald’s Marble Arch restaurant in London, and eventually went on to be the Head of Worldwide Operations for McDonald’s Worldwide head office in Chicago. Three years later, he decided to move back to the UK.

Now living in Garstang, he has the franchise for 11 McDonald’s restaurants in the Preston, Leyland, and Blackpool areas.

Nigel said the food trail was very important. He wants the customer to know that source of their burger of chicken nuggets is proven, and the content of what they are eating is there for all to see.

After that, the customer makes their own choice.

He said: “Sometimes people want to know what’s really in their chicken nuggets or whatever as if they don’t believe McDonald’s. They ask and I tell them – it’s 100 per cent British beef, chicken breast, free range eggs and so on.

“We are very clear about everything – if you want to now what’s in it, we tell you. If you want to know how many calories are in it, it says on the wrapper. If you want to compare it, go and buy a sandwich from your local supermarket and see how many calories are in that!

​“At the end of the day, par​e​nts have the choice. It’s all there - kids like ​fries. We sell Big Macs, chicken ​nuggets ​etc. But we also sell fruit and smoothies, ​and ​wraps. It’s up to the customer. We don’t hide any​thing.”​

Nigel frequently visits his restaurants (often without notice) and soaks up the experience and listens to feedback from customers.

Many restaurants, including the Preston city centre outlet, have been given a high-tech overhaul.

The restaurant in Friargate, which first opened in 1985, has been given a makeover to feature new self-service kiosks, digital menu boards and tablet computers.

The redesign also includes a new bright, modern interior, new seating and free Wi-Fi.

The programme is being rolled out across the country, and in some outlets table service is being trialled.

Nigel said that in a way, there already was table service as staff always looked for customers who needed help.

People seemed to like the new-look outlets, and the changing menu.

Nigel said that in the upgraded restaurants, sales were significantly up.