retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Forbes has a story about how a Hacienda Heights, California, McDonald’s located in a large Asian community has decided to take a new approach, décor wise.

“Gone are the plastic furniture, Ronald McDonald and the red and yellow palette that has defined the world's largest hamburger chain,” the story reports. “Leather seats, earth tones, bamboo plants and water trickling down glass panels have taken their place. The makeover elements are meant to help diners achieve happiness and fortune - whether they realize it or not.

That's because the restaurant was redesigned using the principles of feng shui, the ancient Chinese practice of arranging objects and numbers to promote health, harmony and prosperity.

“The concept is an unlikely fit with fast food. But the restaurant's owners say the designs are aimed at creating a soothing setting that will encourage diners to linger over their burgers and fries, and come back again.”

According to the story, the effort is part of a broader strategy on McDonald’s part to create stores that are more attractive to local tastes and less cookie-cutter.

KC's View:
Normally, this is the sport in MNB when I would make a joke like, “Now that they’ve gotten rid of the plastic furniture, it’d be nice if they’d improve on the plastic food.”

But whenever I do that, I get accused of being a snob, a yuppie and a foodie who doesn’t appreciate the charms and improving nature of fast food. (Not true. I’m too old to be a yuppie.)

I actually think this is an interesting trend in the broader sense. There is no reason that a fast food joint has to look like a fast food joint, just as there is no real reason that a supermarket has to look like a supermarket. It is through innovation and surprise that customers can be captivated and enthralled.

I don't know about you, but I love to be surprised when I walk into the store. And, to be honest, it happens too rarely.