Globe-trotting fans of the Golden Arches may find some of their favorites in the new McDonald’s opening Wednesday in Chicago’s booming Fulton Market district.
McSpicy Chicken Sandwich from Hong Kong, anyone? The new location will feature a rotating menu of food served in McDonald’s restaurants around the world. The 6,000-square-foot restaurant is on the ground floor of the global fast food chain’s new nine-story corporate headquarters, still under construction. Spokesman Robert Gibbs said the company would begin moving its 2,000 or so workers from its longtime Oak Brook campus over the next few weeks.
The Fulton Market McDonald’s is one of the company’s modernized “experience of the future” locations with ordering kiosks, table service and curbside pickup. What it lacks: a drive-through or much parking to speak of in the rapidly changing business district.
But McDonald’s enthusiasts and curious passers-by likely will visit the location anyway, drawn by the global offerings not sold in any other U.S. locations. The first menu rotation will include the Mighty Angus Burger from Canada, the McSpicy Chicken Sandwich from Hong Kong, Cheese & Bacon Loaded Fries from Australia, two varieties of salads served in France and the McFlurry Prestigio dessert served in Brazil.
The new restaurant will also feature a “Latin American-style dessert center” and McCafe coffee drinks typically served in Australia.
“This is a unique challenge for us because of that global menu aspect that we’re not tremendously familiar with — and really no owner/operator is. Typically, if you live in these countries, that’s your menu,” Nick Karavites, franchise owner/operator of the new location, said at a media event Tuesday.
That’s also what adds to the buzz. “It wasn’t an issue getting employees at all,” Karavites said.
The global menu will rotate every couple of months or so. Most standard U.S. McDonald’s fare will also be served.
Along with the former Rock ’n’ Roll McDonald’s in River North — currently undergoing a major remodeling and also owned by Karavites — the Fulton Market location gives the chain another unique location in downtown Chicago. The River North location is expected to open later this summer. Both will have sleeker, more modern designs that break from the company’s past, part of McDonald’s strategy to grow sales and guide the business into the future.
“Everything that we have done to modernize the brand over the past several years is exhibited in this restaurant,” Gibbs said Tuesday.
It’s unlikely McDonald’s will extend the global offerings to any other U.S. locations, Gibbs said.
Bonnie Riggs, a restaurant analyst with research firm NPD Group, said she sees no downside in McDonald’s bringing global food to this particular location.
“The uniqueness of what they’re doing I would say is very appealing to consumers,” Riggs said.
What once was an industrial meatpacking district west of the Loop has become a hive of new development in recent years, with a slew of trendy restaurants moving in along with companies like Google and McDonald’s. Outside the new McDonald’s on Tuesday, construction workers toiled amid clouds of dust.
Some of McDonald’s new neighbors said they welcomed the addition.
At Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, several construction workers hunched over subs. Manager Aquiel Farrington said she wasn’t worried about the new McDonald’s restaurant siphoning away business.
“I don’t think it’s going to hurt us at all,” Farrington said. “We’re different enough.”
Christina Berardi, manager of Anthropologie, the women’s clothing store across the street from McDonald’s, said she expects to see an uptick in sales once McDonald’s employees begin settling into their new office.
“I know our employees are happy,” Berardi said. “It’s like a fancy McDonald’s.”