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McDonald’s New Exterior, Interior Design

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Old South Main McDonald’s in Adrian, MI

Have you seen the new McDonald’s interior and exterior design? You must have. (By the time things come to Lenawee County, they have already been through all the major cities and most medium and small ones.) I hate it.

Old South Main McDonald’s in Adrian, MI, shortly before destruction

I like the old exterior design, with the slanted roof and parallel lights. It sort of looked like an overgrown shack. You saw the building, and you instantly knew what restaurant it was and what kind of processed, sodium-infused goodness lay inside waiting for you. It seemed like they usually featured the colors red and yellow. Signature colors. Ketchup and mustard.

New South Main McDonald’s in Adrian, front (or back)

The new design sucks balls. (Is that a valid argument?) It is just like a beige box, with some yellow accents on it. My husband said, “You know what they are trying to do, don’t you? They are trying to make-it look like a sit-down restaurant.” And I believe he is absolutely correct. (More on my thoughts on the interior in a minute.) Except for one small detail:

There are now two drive-thrus.

But wait, you might be picturing the Rally’s double drive-thru in your head. Where there is an ordering speaker, menu board, and payment/pick-up window on both sides of the building. OH NO. McDonald’s had to half-ass it. There are two ordering speakers and two menu boards side by side. THAT MERGE INTO ONE LANE for the payment/pick-up windows!

Problem #1: In at least one location that I know of, the outer menu board blocks your view of the inner lane. You can’t tell there is a car in the inner lane until you move forward and hit it.

Problem #2: In at least one location that I know of, the outer menu board is set up so that you cannot see it from the speaker while ordering (a different location than Problem #1, but same city and franchise owner).

Problem #3: Where the two lanes merge it is like a construction zone traffic jam on the freeway. Except everyone is hungry. It has the potential to be road rage. Or hunger rage. Or drive-thru rage.

New McDonald’s lighting, North Main McDonald’s in Adrian

Enough about the drive-thru. Let’s move inside, shall we? The previous design was functional for families with litters of kids, old people drinking coffee while reading the paper, and for high schoolers to lazily half-ass clean. It was colorful and bright.

New seating in North Main McDonald’s in Adrian–both the booths in the back and bar to the right are pub-style high seating

The new interior is heinous. It is what I picture Starbucks to look like, although I have never actually been in one (I don’t drink coffee, remember?). One version I have seen had fancy light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. Another had partitions between the seats with wheat inside the glass–>wheat! The new thing seems to be darker wood and dimmer lighting. And having some tables pub-style, meaning higher than a typical table. Not safe for short young children or unsteady old people with hot liquid.

New partition between booths at North Main McDonald’s in Adrian (I guess it isn’t really wheat, but I still don’t like it!)

If I concentrate on one location, I can give more specific details. We will use the South Main McDonald’s in Adrian, Michigan. This location was probably a little unique because not only did the building get the new design, the old building was torn down completely and it moved down the street, past Bob Evans and the vacant Long John Silver’s. The new South Main location sits right on the corner of US223 and M52. Prime real estate. I believe the franchise owner wanted to make this move for years. Too bad the building looks like it was build the wrong way around.

Double drive-thru view of South Main McDonald’s in Adrian from corner of US223 and M52

I believe the South Main McDonald’s was built backwards. Sitting at the corner, waiting for the unbearably long traffic light, you should be looking at the front of the restaurant and thinking, “How fast and filling the food would be. Immediate gratification.” You shouldn’t be sitting at the traffic light thinking, “That food would be fast and filling, but the drive-thru is way too busy.” Which is what anyone who has driven past it has said. Oh! And having the drive-thru speakers aimed at one of the busiest intersections in the county makes it hard to hear and hard to be heard.

The old South Main had oodles of seating. So much so, that they blocked off part of it and made a separate room for kids’ birthday parties. The new location has less seating, even though it is now in a more prominent location (and I believe is busier). Much of the possible seating space is gobbled up by the children’s Play Place. Isn’t buying your kid a Happy Meal and then sitting in the play area just throwing your money away? Either your kid will play and not eat or whine that you won’t let them play and not eat.

Since I am on the topic of McDonald’s and I hold grudges, I will take this opportunity to express my dissatisfaction that they no longer carry the flaky, crispy apple pies I used to love. I think they have been gone about 20 years now. Replace by those “baked” jokes for a pie they have now. (If you want a reasonable facsimile of the old pies, go to Taco Bell and order a caramel apple empanada. Yum.) I also greatly miss McDonaldland Cookies (shaped like McDonaldland characters) and Chocolatey-Chip Cookies (mini and crispy). And I miss that the Dundee, Michigan McDonald’s used to have an outdoor McDonaldland playground. Each piece of equipment was a McDonald’s character. I remember a Grimace shaped metal bouncy thing and Mayor McCheese monkey bars. There were more I can’t remember. I am sure that wasn’t the only one in the world. It has been replaced by an indoor playland:(

Dear McDonald’s,

You can make the inside of your restaurant look all hoity-toity if you want to, but you are still going to have a grandma in there begging her granddaughter to eat a French fry. It is the natural order of things. It is the American way.

I’m not stalking you. is NOW ON FACEBOOK! “Like” that I’m not stalking you and get an update when there is a new post to read. (It is sort of like YOU are stalking ME.)

10 responses

  1. The McDonald’s in my home town of Sycamore, Illinois had the same outdoor playground. I loved that bouncy Grimace.

  2. Great critique of your local McDonald’s. You should be a restaurant critic. Or are you?

    A co-worker and I were talking about the change in McDonald’s earlier today. What a coincidence. We were mentioning how the competition seems to be heating up for the lunch crowd and coffee nuts (like myself). McDonald’s is trying to become more Starbucks-ish while Tim Horton’s (I’m Canadian) is trying to become a mix of McD’s and Starbucks.

    There was something so fun about Grimace and the French Fry Guys. I had no idea the apple pies had changed or McDonaldland cookies/ mini chocolate chip cookies were no longer available! Wow.

    • Hmmm. I wonder if McDonald’s thinks people are going to start having business meetings there for lunch just because they changed their interior design. I’m guessing people wouldn’t.

  3. Pingback: Hippies in the Drive Thru « lazyhippiemama

  4. We just got a redesigned interior at a nearby McDonald’s in Chicago. It is depressing….it feels like some sort of futuristic coffin.

    • Wow, that is the best description I have heard yet! And just in time for Halloween…

      • Adrienne Sexton

        Our little town of Wetumpka, AL just got the new redesigned building. It was upsetting to say the least . . . it was lunchtime and quiet busy. Nowhere, really to sit. The only choice we had was a 8 ft long bench that had a few small tables with attached chairs. It was only two little seats open in the middle . . .just as I was going to sit down, a little girl started screaming, her brother was sneezing across the table I chosen to sit at. I thought to myself Oh, no! I’m doomed, but I was saved when my daughter said look a booth, Whew I was so relieved. I felt guilty sitting at a booth that sits six people, but we didn’t have to sit next to a snotty, sneezing, screaming children, we had privacy – to chat about how awful and uncomfortable the seating is. As, I sat there and looked around I noticed an elderly lady was having difficulty trying to get up on a high stool. I didn’t see a place for an overweight woman to sit. The place I was going to sit I noticed she had to stick her butt in other people faces to sit down. I say too many barstools, high seats, and not enough booths. I see nothing wrong with rows of booths for 2, 4 and 6 people that are not so high. The new design took up parking spaces, playpark with outside seating, rows of booths all for about 35 uncomfortable seats, where the old one I felt could seat a 100 people comfortably. Makes no sense to me. I guess, McD’s no longer wants you to sit down and eat. It was just a big disappointment for a small town McDonald’s.
        With the new design on the outside I have passed them up without realizing until too late.

      • Yup! I couldn’t have said it better myself. I can’t believe McDonald’s are continuing to still use this remodel design. I wish I could see their sales numbers for “eat in” orders before and after a remodel.

  5. I have to agree with you there. I’ve always hated the contemporary architecture that McDonald’s is using to build new ones or renovate older ones or just replace the old buildings that have been there for decades. The old design with the faux mansard roof with parallel lamps was always better, plus that design’s interiors were always bright and colorful and looked like what the average fast food place should look like, and was fit for a variety of themes. The postmodern looking design both inside and out is nothing but garbage, plus the inside of the restaurants with that design always went for a dark and mundane look, not to mention I’ve always found postmodern style buildings to look cold and unwelcoming. Wish McDonald’s would bring back the awesome design most of us people grew up with, and more than anything, McDonald’s should bring back McDonaldland. And no matter how many of those stores get touched up with the postmodern look and feel, it’s never going to stop us from voicing our opinions.

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