Healthier ingredients. Premium salads. Specialty coffees, lattes and mocha to give those pricey coffee shops a run for their money. Maybe it was just a matter of time before McDonald’s would want to dress up its digs, too.
Now comes news that McDonald’s is doing just that.
McDonald’s is starting a massive effort to give its restaurants a hip new look that rivals Starbucks and other specialty coffee shops. It’s the first major overhaul in 30 years for McDonald’s (those retro remakes like the one on Central Entrance were scattered). Many of their European restaurants have already gotten the new look, and it’s being credited for the fast food chain’s growth in Europe. Now the company is starting on its American restaurants.
Their first one, last year in midtown Manhattan, was turned into an urban boutique-like eatery that was described as "beautiful" in a November Associated Press story. Customers could settle in in comfy chairs, plug in their laptops for free Internet and linger. Sleek counters allow people to watch flat-screen TVs while they eat or read the paper. Lighting is subdued. European inspired, the new look features modern furniture, upholstered vinyl chairs, muted colors and subdued lighting. Employees in all-black uniforms add class.
The first to get the treatment in Duluth will be the McDonald’s on London Road and 21st Avenue East. Its total reconstruction should start this month.
Local McDonald’s officials are holding back on the details. Its unpredictable, because there’s not one look, not one formula for all their restaurants. Rather, they’re tailored for the locations. The Manhattan outlet was McDonald’s first "urban redesign." And what’s planned for a Duluth McDonald’s by Lake Superior will likely differ.
Facades vary, from a dramatic angled roof with an arcade feel to a more conservative surburban eatery look with friendly awnings. The golden arches remain, but they may be flatter, stretching across the front in a low curve. That’s the version Mike Nagan, McDonald’s Duluth area superviser, pointed to as close to what the new 21st Avenue East McDonald’s will look like. But not exactly, he said.
Inside will be more predictable, with a counter section, lounge section and general seating section featuring clean lines, muted colors, lively decor and amenities including free Wi-Fi and flat-screened TVs to draw in the young and to fit in with today’s lifestyles. Nagan did reveal that pictures of Duluth will adorn the walls.
One wonders what many of their current customers — who eat there out of necessity because of the low prices — will think. Even with the menu unchanging, will they still feel comfortable and welcome?
Still, it’s hard to look at the online images of the new McDonald’s and not say, "wow."