It’s out with the old and in with the new for 13,000 McDonald’s restaurants in America, but restaurants in Tallahassee won’t be seeing too many changes.
After 50 years of the classic red roofs, plastic furniture, and no-frills design, the fast-food giant is changing its look to cater to a younger demographic.
Nationally, the chain is adding plasma-screen television sets, soft couches, coffee tables and wireless Internet access to half of its restaurants by the end of this year. But franchise owners will be left to foot most of the bill.
The Caspers Company, the group that owns all the McDonald’s restaurants in Tallahassee, said they are not taking part in the chain’s, “Forever Young” concept but has already put the concept of catering to the community into practice.
“We try to incorporate the flavor of the community where we do business,” said Vice President for Community Relations Bob Conigliaro. “We try to model the restaurants accordingly so they fit (their surroundings).”
Conigliaro said the area restaurants may not be seeing all of the new features the chain is planning to install nationwide, but other improvements have already been put in place.
The company has made free wireless Internet access available in all of its restaurants in Florida and cushioned the seating of many of the restaurants. “Of the stores that we have already remodeled, the last few at least, the interiors have changed considerably from the look of days gone by,” Conigliaro said.
One of those is the McDonald’s at 2800 S. Monroe St. It was remodeled and given a Rattler feel because it sits so close to Florida A&M University.
The interior of the restaurant is outfitted with FAMU flags, sculptures of the school’s mascot and bright orange and green paint.
While some students appreciate the personalized touch, they said it does not really make a difference whether they choose to eat there.
“It doesn’t really matter to me,” said Benicia Mitchell, a 19-year-old mathematics education student from Triangle, Va. “I’m just there to get food. As long as the food’s good, the appearance doesn’t matter.”
Mitchell said she had not heard very much about the changes that many of the McDonald’s nationwide planned to implement but thinks it is a good idea.
“If they do decide to do that, I think families would want to go inside, sit down and have that bonding moment, so I can understand why they would want to do that,” she said.
Ultimately, the franchise owner will be able to decide for themselves whether they want to adopt the chic new look, but Patrick Tomlinson said he would like to see the changes happen here.
“I think it would be a great idea,” said Tomlinson, a computer information systems student from Fort Lauderdale. “America is changing. If McDonald’s wants to be classier, they should. I don’t see how it could hurt their image at all. They might even get some new business.”