Posted at 04:33 PM ET, 05/09/2011

McDonald’s note to self: Become Starbucks


Starbucks trained customers to demand better-tasting coffee, spawning thousands of mom-and-pop imitators and enticing even McDonald's, the world's biggest restaurant company, to open coffee counters. (J.B. Reed - Bloomberg News)
Not since the Rock and Roll McDonald’s has the company of the yellow arches attempted to look so cool.

McDonald’s Corp. is undertaking a $1 billion-plus remodeling that it hopes will make it look young and hip by 2015, USA Today reported Monday. The omnipresent arches will stay, but the ketchup-red roofs, fiberglass tables, and fluorescent lights all will go.

In their place, customers at 14,000 McDonald’s stores will soon find a Starbucks-like coffeehouse interior in which to enjoy their burger and fries. They’ll also find wooden tables, wi-fi access, comfortable faux leather chairs, and muted colors that would make Martha Stewart coo.

McDonald’s has given hints of duplicating the Starbucks model for years, introducing cafe salads in 2002 and more recently borrowing the profitable specialty coffee concept from Starbucks at their McCafes.

While it’s at it, the McDonald’s redesign team is taking notes from Apple too. “When you're inside an Apple Store, you almost feel like you're inside an iPad — and you want to stay there,” Max Carmona, senior director of U.S. restaurant design for McDonald’s, told USA Today. “We want people to walk into McDonald's and have the same feeling.”

The same feeling as being inside a ... french fry? Maybe a venti french fry?

Some restaurant industry experts have warned that the flashy decor may not do well in Middle America. It also seems suspect that a decor that caters to the organic, free-trade coffee crowd would work on customers who just want to get their McRib on.

But McDonald’s is betting on the concept that nicer-looking stores attract more business.

What do you think? Will the McDonald’s redesign make you more likely to eat there?

By  |  04:33 PM ET, 05/09/2011

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company