Forty years after the franchise entered Hong Kong, a taste of the future is offered by the new McDonald’s Next concept store – a world first.
In Admiralty Centre, the store has replaced the red-and-yellow colour palette with a black-and-white logo, ambient lighting, and glass and metallic interiors. There is not a clown to be seen – and the biggest surprise is a salad bar with 19 ingredient options including two choices of base greens, two types of cheese and three sauces.
Also new for McDonald’s is table service after 6pm and premium coffee blends. Customers can also charge their mobile devices, use free Wi-Fi and can use self-ordering kiosks. For diehards, the regular menu is still available, plus there is the brand’s new Create Your Taste (CYT) concept, allowing touch-screen customisation of burgers. Launched last year, CYT has been rolled out in locations in Australia, China, Hong Kong (nine outlets), the UAE and the US.
McDonald’s Next combines the restaurant, CYT and McCafe all in one, offering a variety of exclusive products, says the company in a press release.
Since CYT was introduced in Hong Kong in July, it was noticed that customers increasingly opted for healthy options, which led the brand to extend the concept to salads. Salads can also be matched with grilled chicken, chopped eggs, crayfish and cous cous or quinoa. The burgers are served on wooden boards.
Also in response to local tastes, both coffee and desserts have been upgraded. Its new McCafe Premium House Blend single-origin beans are being packaged for customers to take home, and the restaurant serves traditional Belgian berry waffles.
A new “theatre kitchen” features bright lights and glass counters displaying ingredients. Customers may also watch the food preparation process. The restaurant decor includes a large screen displaying continually changing “interesting food patterns”, while there is “carefully selected” background music and adjustable LED lights to create atmosphere.
As well as having new uniforms, the staff have had 720 hours’ of training for table service, offered from 6pm until the restaurant closes at 1am.
“It’s friendlier, and feels more like a cafe than a McDonald’s,” French businessman Nicolas Cottard has told CNN. “I think it’s increased the value of the brand.”
The introduction of the new concept follows McDonald’s announcing a major turnaround plan in May after both revenues and customer numbers tumbled internationally. CFO Kevin Ozan said the restaurant’s performance reflected the ongoing pressures of the business – not only competition in the fast-food market, but also the growing awareness of health issues around the world. Half of the global respondents to a Nielsen Global Health & Wellness survey last year said they were trying to lose weight, while 75 cent of them said they were changing their diets to focus on more natural, fresh foods.
The McDonald’s Next restaurant was designed by Australian company Landini Associates, which told Dezeen magazine the grey-walled restaurant is “an experiment in non-design”.
“The colourful graphic environments that became the signature for McDonald’s internationally are replaced with a more simple, quieter and more classic approach,” said the Sydney-based architectural practice.
“The intention is to hero the food, the service and the people who come to enjoy it, and to create a ‘recognisable neutrality’ that allows this to happen.”
Landini Associates is now working on similar stores in Australia, China and Singapore.