McDonald's Redesign Coaxes Customers to Dine, Not Dash

McDonald's is nothing if not consistent. If you're passing the drive-through or walking up to the counter, you're pretty much guaranteed to get an identical experience no matter whether you're in Manhattan or Minnesota. For many, their dependable stores mean comfort and familiarity—but the fast food giant is preparing to embark on a nationwide makeover.

For the past few years McDonald's has been tweaking their menu to keep up with the nation's changing tastes, adding wraps, smoothies, burgers of higher quality meat, and coffee drinks to their regular roster. Now they are looking to modernize the interiors and exteriors of most of their nearly 14,000 American restaurants. USA Today got a sneak peek at what McDonald's has in store.

Taking cues from Starbucks—with its warm, comfortable interiors—as well as European golden arch locations, there will be Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, softer lighting, and a palette of muted (but still familiar) red and yellow. Fiberglass chairs and tables are going to be replaced with cushy upholstered chairs, wooden tables, and bar stools.

These interior renovations are intended to convey a feeling of ease, making McDonald's a place you'll want to linger. Dining areas will be divided into three sections: one for those on the go, one for larger groups, and one for customers who plan on spending a bit more time. It is also hoped that the redesigns will give McDonald's a leg up on the slightly pricier fast-casual restaurants that have drawn away customers in recent years. And with a $1 billion price tag attached to this radical transformation, a lot is at stake.

There will be notable changes to the iconic exterior as well. They are doing away with those recognizable red roofs, and will be cutting the classic golden arches in half to form "yellow brows," which will be placed on top of the newly-flattened roofs. Stores are also going to be adding an additional drive-through to combat long wait times and congestion for car orders.

The project is already underway in Tampa, Florida, and so far the responses have been positive, with customers saying that the new stores feel both homey and modern. McDonald's plans to update 800 locations this year, and will have all intended redesigns complete by 2015.

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