McDonald’s much-hyped cafe in its new headquarters in the West Loop is getting a makeover just seven months after opening on Randolph’s restaurant row.
The changes, which were being finalized Friday, are aimed at making more room for customers, especially during the lunch rush, which can be “congested” or even “chaotic” at times, customers and workers said.
Permits to renovate the 6,000-square-foot restaurant at 1035 W. Randolph St. were filed in November, said Jeff Bauer, a business consultant for the global fast food chain. The restaurant was shuttered all of last weekend and three days this week while the changes were made.
Bauer, who was at the restaurant Friday, said the redo provides more counter space and more room for customers to wait for their orders — which can include food from the its rotating menu with items that you can only get at McDonald’s in other countries, such as a McAloo Tikki from India, featuring a veggie patty made with potatoes, pea and samosa seasonings.
Why the redo so soon after opening?
“We are experiencing such big crowds because of how many customers were filing in near the entryway,” Bauer said. “This is going to create a much better flow all around.”
He added: “The original space was very congested near the entrance because the counter was so small. Now we will have a counter double the size.”
In addition to extra counter space, three additional touch-screen kiosks for ordering were installed along with more leather chairs, tables and even standing rest pads for customers to lean against while waiting.
The eatery — which McDonald’s dubs an “Experience of the Future (EOTF)” restaurant — is “designed to dramatically transform the customer experience,” the restaurant says. It has a modern feel with leather chairs and suspended light fixtures in place of the typical McDonald’s decor, and a map of the world showing where menu items are from. New global items will be announced next month.
Still, one frequent customer said the scene can be “chaotic” at lunchtime.
“Some extra room would be great,” the customer said Friday.
Employees said more space up front will make everything work more smoothly.
“During lunch time the lines are so long and it gets so busy so quickly,” worker Demetries Wright said.
“It’s going to be a lot easier for us to move around and get our jobs done. I greet customers at the door, and this is going to be much easier to do with the new space.”
There are improvements behind the scenes, too.
“We added technology to the McCafe area so we can serve everyone in a timely fashion and in a much more organized manner,” Bauer said. “From an employee standpoint we love it so much. … I anticipate customers loving it.”
A McDonald’s corporate spokesperson couldn’t be reached for comment.