TAMPA, Fla. -- McDonald's may be operating under a new motto: out with the old and in with the new. That's because the quick service restaurant is embarking on a massive remodeling effort, one that is estimated at more than $1 billion and will hit the majority of the 14,000 restaurants in the United States by 2015.
The makeover will do away with the fiberglass tables and industrial steel chairs and replace them with wooden tables and comfortable faux-leather chairs. Gone to history, as well, are neon yellow and bright red interiors, replaced with muted oranges, yellows and subtle greens. The company is also taking away the McDonald's signage, front counter areas and well-known red roofs. And the white exterior will be changed to earth tones and glass, according to the USA Today, which got a sneak peak at the remodel at a location in Tampa.
McDonald's executives are giving an approving nod to the Tampa redo and implementing the changes to approximately 800 locations this year. "McDonald's has to change with the times," Jim Carras, senior vice president of domestic restaurant development for the company told the news outlet. "And we have to do it faster than we ever have before."
Aside from making customers more comfortable, the move is aimed at outpacing its immediate competitors like Burger King and Wendy's, which may not have the money to follow suit. In addition, the company hopes the changes will draw customers away from slightly pricier quick service restaurants like Panera Bread and Chipotle, USA Today reported.
However there is one major risk involved: McDonald's could change so much it becomes unrecognizable to loyal customers. "Flashy décor may not sit well with Middle America," explained Scott Hume, editor of restaurant industry blog BurgerBusiness. "The trick is to go techno without going Jetsons."
The remodeling also ushers in a change in mindset. Instead of getting customers in and out quickly, McDonald's is asking them to hang around awhile with an expanded food and beverage menu and free Wi-Fi.
Other remodel highlights include: doubling drive-throughs to speed up service, replacing the overhead fluorescent lights, dividing the dining areas into separate sections and adding flat-screen TVs.