McDonald’s tests healthy cafe

January 07 03:09 2015

Even Ronald McDonald might have to do a double-take in this place. Yes, it’s run by McDonald’s, but this recently-opened Sydney restaurant, dubbed The Corner by McCafe, appears to be anything but a McDonald’s operation. It’s simple. It’s spotless. And it serves all kinds of healthy offerings including tofu and vegetables.635561426916645993-McDonalds-The-Corner-01

No Big Macs or fries to be seen. Instead, the menu includes salads along with Moroccan roast chicken breast, chipotle pulled pork, brown rice, pumpkin, lentil and eggplant salads and sandwiches. And instead of a Coke, well, how about a balsamic strawberry craft soda on the side?

It’s not a McDonald’s and not exactly a McCafe either, says spokeswoman Lisa McComb. Instead, she says, it’s a “learning lab where we are testing completely new and different food and beverages never before seen in our restaurants.” Alas, there are no current plans for any in the U.S. market.

This small test comes at a time McDonald’s is undergoing seismic marketing changes in the U.S. market as its domestic business continues to decline. In November, sales fell 4.6% at U.S. restaurants open at least 13 months. Last week, McDonald’s announced the roll out of a new, national campaign that focuses on the “lovin’” part of its familiar “I’m Lovin’ It” tag line. In one animated spot, traditional enemies become friends, including Batman and the Joker and a Democratic blue donkey and Republican red elephant.

The new campaign was announced by U.S. chief marketing officer Deborah Wahl, who says the company will moved from a philosophy of “billions served” to a more consumer-friendly vision of “billions heard.” Some are skeptical of both the marketing change and the new test store. Although there’s small McCafe signage, there is little else at the location that indicates it’s run by McDonald’s. “What does it say about McDonald’s brand image and the future of the corporation when these tactics can only garner success with Millennials when they don’t know they’re eating McDonald’s food?” poses Jesse Bragg, media director at Corporate Accountability International, a consumer watch group.