Tuesday, November 01, 2005

McDonalds

I have always been a fan of McDonalds. I really do like the food. I did a project on McDonalds in a business class I took several years ago. Despite the fact that McDonalds is known for their hamburgers, they didn't start out that way. The first McDonalds was a place to get milkshakes.

I can remember going to McDonalds with my family in the early 70s. Because my family was of modest means, we 4 kids were allowed to get a Big Mac, small fries and a small drink - OR - a cheeseburger, small fries and a milkshake. We were not allowed to get a Big Mac AND a milkshake... it was one or the other. I can still remember going there on Thurs nights after church, my sisters in dresses and me in a suit. The floor was brown tile, the chairs were rust colored, and the booths and tables were gold and beige. Yep, our McDonalds was stylin'.

I also remember going to the new McDonalds built near our house in the early 80s, when 2 of my 3 sisters were married and none were living at home. It was close enough to walk to. I remember my best friend Rodney would come over for the weekend, and we would walk without any parents to the McDonalds and 'dine'. Going to McDonalds then meant independence. We both got small allowances so we could order whatever we wanted. I remember the thrill of ordering a Big Mac, fries AND a milkshake! The decor of this McDonalds was a bit more hip. It had a tan/gold tile floor, beige chairs and booths, and navy blue tables.

I can remember in the late 80s when a new McDonalds opened near Potomac Mills Mall. The mall had been open for a few years, so when they began developing the land surrounding the mall, McDonalds bought in. But this was a special McDonalds - it had a 1950s theme! The floor was black and white checkerboard tile, the booths were covered in sparkly red vinyl, there were photos of 1950s film and music stars on the walls, and record albums hung from the ceiling. Sometimes I'd meet my friends there for dinner when I was working at the mall. Not long after that, a drive-thru only McDonalds was built on the other side of the mall. There was no customer entrance or seating area; it was strictly a drive-thru.

In the mid 90s I was living with my first boyfriend in Gaithersburg, a growing community within a reasonable commute to DC. The McDonalds near our house was rather new, and had the latest, hippest color scheme: purple, teal green, and raspberry! Yeah, that's right. It was colorful. As I recall, this was the first McDonalds that gave you a cup so you could determine your own perfect ratio of ice and soda.

In 1998 I began working in Herndon, after having moved back to VA in 1996. The McDonalds near my office was located in a shopping center. I don't mean out in the parking lot of a shopping center, but rather, IN the shopping center, between the bagel place and the cellular store. It must have been the smallest McDonalds ever, and it was always crowded. A year or so later they opened a new, normal size McDonalds half a block up the street. I have been going there for about 6 years now. It is hands down the most efficiently run fast food restaurant I have ever been to - ever. Even on the busiest days at the busiest times, you never wait in line more than a few seconds. You place your order and pay, and by the time you put your change or debit card away, your food is ready and on your tray. It should be the model for all fast food restaurants. My only complaint is the woman whose job it is to wipe down and restock the condiment area. Lots of times when I'm in a hurry I find myself waiting for her to finish wiping the 3 droplets of coke from the stainless steel counter before I can grab my straw and run out the door. But its a small price to pay for such great service otherwise.

Then there's the McDonalds closest to our house. From its color scheme, it appears to have been decorated in the mid-80s, with its southwestern hues of dusty turquoise, dusty peach, and beige. There are even wallpaper inserts on the walls with a southwestern, American Indian motif. The food and service are usually good there, but occasionally there is a problem with the a/c in the summer. The left side and the main counter area will be fine, and the right side will be noticeably warmer. But when you're really in the mood for chicken McNuggets with hot mustard sauce, one does what one must.

Last Fri when Joe & I were headed up to the beach, we decided to stop at a McDonalds in our town (not the one closest to our house). We were really surprised to see that it had recently been remodeled. I nicknamed it the 'Bistro McDonalds'. There are no booths, and no stationary chairs bolted to the floor in front of the tables. The lighting is dim, coming from tiny spots in the ceiling. There is a circular ceiling 'sculpture' with indirect lighting behind it, too. There are tall tables with high bar stools, and some regular tables with silver aluminum chairs. Instead of wallpaper, the walls are covered in a faux granite material (likely a laminate). There were large flat-panel plasma TV screens mounted in the corners of the ceiling, playing CNN. It was the wildest thing I'd ever seen in a McDonalds! With this 'Bistro McDonalds' we began to wonder what would be next? I've already seen a DVD rental machine in one McDonalds. Credit and debit cards are accepted at all McDonalds, including the drive-thru window. So what's next? Maybe a partnership with massage therapists to knead your muscles while you eat? Maybe a partnership with Starbucks and the local beauty school so you can get a pedicure while you sip a latte? Who knows, but I'm sure that whatever it is, it will be successful.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Have you been to the McDonalds on 42nd Street in New York City? Eat your heart out! Oh and Mark, I'm sorry I chose "How to Bake Chicken" over "Don't Rain on my (Gay Pride) Parade" but I don't want to alienate any potential straight audience I will have... yeah right! Ciao!

PS- I see you set up word verification yay! Now you need to get a digital camera and add pictures to your blogs.