Saturday, May 28, 2011

McDonald's 2.0

From USA Today:
At a time when most of McDonald's competitors are still shell-shocked from the recent recession, the fast-food giant is undertaking its biggest store-by-store makeover in the chain's 56-year history: The 500-pound clown of fast food is trying to look more like a grown-up.

It's a $1 billion-plus undertaking that McDonald's and its franchisees hope, by 2015, will have the vast majority of America's 14,000 McDonald's looking comfortable enough to hang out in long after you've gobbled down your burger, fries — and smoothie.

For the next generation of McDonald's customers, the notion of what a McDonald's restaurant looks like inside and out could be turned on its head. Goodbye, fiberglass tables and industrial steel chairs. Adios, neon-yellow, bright-red interiors. Hello, wooden tables, comfortable faux leather chairs and interiors newly painted in muted oranges, yellows and even subtle greens.

Take away all the McDonald's signage — and the familiar front counter area — and customers who were to drive by or step inside wouldn't likely know they were face-to-face with a McDonald's. Even from the street, many of the changes are immediately apparent. No more clown-red roofs. No more confusion about what door to use. And that all-too-familiar white facade has been replaced with more inviting earth tones and glass...

Some McRemodel highlights:

•Redoing roofs. The bright red roofs that have topped McDonald's for several decades are getting the heave, replaced with flatter, more conventional roofs.

•Muting paint. The neon yellows and reds common to the interiors and exteriors are becoming history, replaced with much more subtle oranges, reds, yellows and even greens.

•Nixing fiberglass. The familiar fiberglass tables that have been a mainstay are being replaced mostly by wood.

•Updating chairs. Those industrial steel chairs are giving way to wooden chairs, colorful stools and, in some cases, vinyl-covered chairs that resemble leather. Some stores will have larger lounge chairs similar to the kind you might expect to find in a coffee shop.

•Doubling drive-throughs. To ease lines inside and outside stores, many locations are adding second drive-through windows to speed up service.

•Splashing color. McDonald's hasn't junked it's familiar red and yellow colors altogether, but it is making them far less obvious. Instead of filling the restaurants with them, it's splashing bright yellow and red here and there for effect.

•Junking the fluorescent look. Overhead fluorescent lights are being replaced with more contemporary lamps that make the lighting in stores look less like that of offices.

•Dividing dining areas. The sea of tables and chairs is history in the remodeled stores. The new dining rooms are divided into separate eating zones for larger groups, eat-and-run customers and folks who want to stay and lounge.

•Adding flat-screens TVs. Large, flat-screen TVs — some playing contemporary music — are showing up in many locations, though fewer than half of the remodeled stores will display them.

•Erecting semi-swooshes. Curving across the top of the newly flattened roof is what McDonald's calls the yellow "brow" — or half of a golden arch. It's got the familiar, bright-yellow design but encased in a Nike swoosh-like arc...

McDonald's is looking less like McDonald's and more like Starbucks.
Brian Blanco, USA TODAY

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