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McDonald's Corp. plans to create Speedee Labs at its Chicago headquarters.

McDonald’s to move innovation center jobs to Chicago HQ

Burger brand plans to open Speedee Labs as part of relocation

McDonald’s Corp. plans to create a new facility, Speedee Labs, and relocate employees from its innovation center in Romeoville, Ill., to its headquarters in Chicago, the company CEO announced Wednesday.

Company CEO Chris Kempczinski, in an address to the Economic Club of Chicago, said the new facility will bring teams from McDonald’s corporate office and the existing innovation center in Romeoville, Ill., to collaborate on restaurant solutions and technologies.

A source said the current innovation center employs about 120 people, and they will be given the opportunity to move to the new Speedee Labs at the company’s headquarters in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. McDonald's moved its corporate headquarters back to Chicago in 2018.

McDonald’s founders introduced the Speedee Service System in 1948, providing new kitchen processes and streamlined crew responsibilities that served as a model for the quick-service restaurant industry. The company said the new Speedee Labs facility will shape restaurant solutions in the future.

“Our customers’ and restaurant teams’ needs are changing, and meeting their expectations requires us to work together in new ways,” said Manu Steijaert, McDonald’s chief customer officer, said in a statement.

“Just as the creation of McDonald’s customer experience team brought key aspects of our business strategy together,” Steijaert said, “the creation of Speedee Labs will enable more of our customers, restaurant teams, markets and global teams to contribute to our innovation, while driving growth and creating more seamless and memorable McDonald’s experiences.”

The new facility will use McDonald’s existing footprint and an additional 15,000 square feet in leased space within the same building as McDonald’s headquarters, the company said.

The company plans to open Speedee Labs in phases, beginning in the second half of 2023. That will been when the innovation teams are to relocate.

“I am thrilled that McDonald’s is continuing to bet on Chicago by adding Speedee Labs to their global headquarters,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “This new addition will draw even more visitors from around the world to our city, and I look forward to welcoming them as they come to collaborate and innovate with this iconic brand.”

McDonald’s opened its innovation center in 1995 to provide live restaurant testing and, more recently, simulation-based training to the system’s nearly 40,000 outlets. Such initiatives as streamlined kitchen processes, updated cooking methods, McDelivery and mobile order and pay were developed or tested at the innovation center, the company said. 

In the 12 months ended June 30, the McDonald’s system supported more than 14,000 jobs in Cook County, Ill.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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