With New Design, McDonald’s Aims to Be the New Starbucks

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The fast-food chain is undertaking a gradual transformation to be less clownish, more coffee shop.

By 2015, McDonald’s isn’t going to look like McDonald’s. It’ll look like Starbucks. Or at least, that’s the $1 billion plan. In a front-page story in Monday’s USA Today, the 56-year-old fast food chain’s stores are undergoing the most massive renovations in their history.

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The revamped McDonald’s looks something like this: wooden tables, faux leather chairs, muted colors, and nothing like the famously bright red-and-yellow arches, and the stores’ durable but not-very-comfortable fiberglass tables and steel chairs. Even the restaurants’ exteriors are getting earthier tones.

It seems that McDonald’s is taking cues from its fast-rising competitor Starbucks, which now ranks No. 3 behind McDonald’s and Subway in U.S. sales for chain restaurants.

Starbucks’ popularity is partially due to the fact that customers feel comfortable there. They can bring their laptops, sign on to free Wi-Fi and spend an afternoon there, something that just seems weird at McDonald’s. Most people go there to get their meal quickly, and without leaving their car.

But the new stores might change that. According to USA Today, the restaurant is redesigning some 800 locations this year and plans to redesign a majority of the franchise’s 14,000 stores by 2015. In the process, they might just reinvent the idea of fast food.

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