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Swanky McDonald’s opens in company’s new West Loop world headquarters

Customer orders at McDonald's inside new corporate headquarters.

The McDonald’'s restaurant in the company's new global headquarters in the West Loop opened Wednesday morning. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

In a neighborhood of if-you-have-to-ask-the-price boutiques and artisanal coffee shops, the opening of a new McDonald’s restaurant might be greeted with upturned noses — or ignored entirely.

But for the first day, at least, the new West Loop branch that opened Wednesday drew a steady stream of curious hipsters — guys with salon-trimmed beards and designer backpacks, new mothers with $1,200 strollers. As well as construction guys in dusty hard hats.

“In the West Loop, there are lots of great food options, lots of awesome places, but there are times when I just want a quick sandwich or a cheap lunch, and this is the perfect kind of solve for that,” said Kyle Goethals, 28, who works at an ad agency in the neighborhood.

To be sure, this isn’t your typical “Mickey D’s.” Visitors enter through a giant cube of red glass with matching sliding doors. And inside, there’s lots of blonde faux wood and distressed concrete. Touch screens allow customers to order and pay without talking to anyone — should they choose.

And the menu has items sold at McDonald’s restaurants around the globe, but not in the United States — including the Australian McCafe, which offers a dozen or so pastries. For lunch, you might try a Spicy Chicken sandwich from Hong Kong or an Angus Burger from Canada.

McDonald's menu board showing items from other countries

The McDonald’’s restaurant inside the firm’s new global headquarters in the West Loop will include a rotating selection of menu items from McDonald’s in other countries. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Nick Karavites, who owns the West Loop branch and 24 others in and around the city, said the design wasn’t meant to appeal to a specific demographic.

“This store wasn’t designed specifically for a group of people — it was designed for all of the customers,” Karavites said.

A McDonald's employee helps a customer operate a new self-serve kiosk.

The McDonald’’s restaurant in the company’s new global headquarters in the West Loop has several self-serve kiosks, though employees are available to help customers figure them out. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Like a number of customers, Jill Nesser stopped by Wednesday because she’d seen the building taking shape and wanted to see how it turned out.

“There’s been a lot of controversy,” said Nesser, 33, a mother of two small children. “There’s a lot of people who live over here who don’t necessarily like chains that are coming over here. … So it’s interesting, but, yes, I think I will survive. It’s McDonald’s.”

The McDonald’s, at 110 N. Carpenter, is in the company’s new global headquarters; the rest of the building is set to open later this spring on the former site of Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios.

Menu board at McDonald's shows baked goods for sale.

The McDonald’’s restaurant in the company’s soon-to-open global headquarters includes menu items from other countries, including baked goods from Canada. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times