Jewish World Review Dec. 23, 2003 / 28 Kislev, 5764

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Consumer Reports

McLattes


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | McDonald's, once America's favorite faux home away from home, where happy families wolfed down unhealthy food under the beaming gaze of weird furry creatures and an unfunny clown, has fallen on hard times of late. Challenged by rival fast food chains, and by salad bars, deli sandwiches, home cooking, and — dare I say it — an increase in discriminating palates, McDonald's has fallen back and regrouped.


According to the San Francisco Chronicle, McDonald's is now venturing into Starbucks territory. This December, in Mountain View, California, a McDonald's opened a coffee bar inside its restaurant, called — of course — McCafe, complete with "comfy chairs, Frank Sinatra on the sound system and an Italian espresso machine steaming up McLattes."


The first such McCafe opened in Raleigh, South Carolina, but Northern California is the true test market, according to Matt Lederhausen, McDonald's president of business development: "You want to find a region that has the people and the passion and the consumers where you think it will really work. You certainly have the passion there." Well, I don't know about that. Personally, I save my passion for doomed relationships, and generally order my caffeinated beverages with, I'll admit it, a certain amount of ennui.


And I have to confess, if I'm going to order a latte, it will probably be from an establishment that doesn't have the lingering aroma of boiling grease. But that's just me. I do love those McDonald's fries, but the thought of dipping them in my mocha is not appealing. Again, I detect an air of desperation around this move. The next thing you know McDonald's will start making keys, frame your prints, sell cell phones, rent DVDS, and let you access the Internet, with your order of large fries.


If McDonald's truly wants to change its ways, it needs to stop putting MAC in front of everything.


And it had better watch its back. Starbucks will start offering French fries, cute little hamburgers, mysterious little deep fried pieces of chicken, and its version of happy meals. What if they introduce their own brand of clown? Chuckles Starbucks? It could happen.


Still, I was heartened to discover that McCafe will not be offering its coffee in tall, venti, and grande, but in small, medium, and large, the way Mother Nature intended. And McDonald's can avoid selling soft jazz compilations, and selections from Oprah's book club, well, they just might be on to something.

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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.

Up

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© 2003, Ian Shoales