When Americans think of McDonald’s, they usually fall into one of two camps. These two groups can be characterized by the following thoughts:
Group A: “Yay, cheap food in 30 seconds!”
Group B: “Um, ew.”
While Group B might avoid McDonald’s at all costs, Group A has no problem with sitting down to grab a quick bite to eat; they might even enjoy it. They’ve grown accustomed to the red and yellow decor, the hard plastic chairs, the food-traffic worn floors. In the United States, McDonald’s isn’t known for its ambience. It’s known for serving up a boatload of calories, fast and on the cheap.
Great Britain, on the other hand, has a somewhat difference perspective on America’s favorite fast food chain. In Europe, locals want a comfortable place to relax — they want clean, they want stylish, and they want nice, dammit. The hard and fast Mickey-D’s as we know it wouldn’t do well in, say, London, so McDonald’s Corp decided to cater to the dominant demographic.
Behold, the stylish London McDonald’s:
Doesn’t look like the average American fast food joint exterior, does it?
Several locations have conference-style seating upstairs.
Some of the seating areas almost look like paintings, with their color selection.
Even the area around the counters are made to look nice, like a place you’d want to spend time hanging out.
And down the street at Burger King… things aren’t all that different from what you’d find in the US:
It’s worth noting, though, that while the interior decor is an example of European finery, the food is pretty much the same as you’d find in the United States. In fact, I had a medium fries and proceeded to pay for it with a cacophony of gastronomical gurgles for the next 24 hours. Like they say, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover — regardless of how attractive that cover may be.
This post originally appeared on KQED’s Bay Area Bites on 3/15/2011.