Not Your Father’s McDonald’s

When did McDonald’s decide to go upscale? I’ve been frequenting McDonald’s since I was a kid growing up in the 1970’s. Back then, the booths were brightly colored plastic, lime green or bright orange. The tables were shiny yellow. The swivel seats were cemented into brown floors made up to look like industrial bricks. There was no hint of anything organic in the restaurant; even the trash cans were covered in pebbles embedded in mortar.

I guess it’s been such a gradual process that I hadn’t really noticed the change until recently. These days, the McDonald’s in Belvidere has a fireplace. There is a pair of easy chairs sitting in front of it. The booths are organically shaped – circles and triangles -with accents of cherry wood or walnut. Ceramic tile covers the floor. The Rockford McDonald’s looks like an English pub. Thin HDTV’s line the walls. And now all of the restaurants seem to be sporting new McCafe’s where you can pick up a latte… and it’s not even a “McLatte” which one would expect.

However, most of these changes seem to be only skin deep. The Big Mac is still front and center on the menu, with the Filet O Fish and Quarter Pounder. The hamburgers are still thin patties with mysterious crunchy bits covered by a smooth, slightly shiny bun. The food, while the price has gone up, is still on the cheaper end of fast food. Ultimately, that’s why we go there… the money we save on the meals; we can use to buy nicer clothes so we fit in with the new atmosphere and all.


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