With the news that McDonald's is spending $1-billion to spruce up 1,400 Canadian locations with fireplaces, plasma screens and professorial leather armchairs, the question is will Canadians slow down over their fast food.
For me, tucking into a limp burger (no pickle) and sodium-rich fries (with a side of barbecue sauce, please) is a bi-annual affair that coincides mysteriously with the most crippling of hangovers. It's a lightning quick, in-and-out experience, a gastronomic walk of shame.
There's little chance I'll be sticking around to bask in the glow of a newly-installed hearth, or pause my sad gobbling to enjoy whatever's showing on a shiny new plasma screen.
In university, McDonald's was a harried deadline stop. Down slid the nuggets as I crammed for another exam. The crusty, downtown location proved a challenging setting to deciper Derrida, as cranky sugar-loaded kids and down-and-out characters were the only actual lingerers.
Judging from McDonald's slick redesign video, it seems that none of these folks is the current target market.
The playrooms with their quicksand ball pits are as distant a memory as Chuck E. Cheese: The new restaurants look like well-appointed IKEA cafeterias, all neutral tones and chic barstools. There even appears to be a luxury vehicle in the drive thru.
The gentrification of fast food spaces has also taken hold at Burger King, which is installing rotating chandeliers and "burger bars" to entice diners out of their cars and into the new interiors at 12,000 locations worldwide.
While it's easy to envision university students cramming for their engineering exams at McDonald's new sleek spaces, will the bespectacled freelancers who call Starbucks home take advantage of McDonald's free Wi-Fi and linger over Mickey D's brew? Will well-heeled business people hammer it out over Quarter Pounders as they all too often do over modified lattes at SBUX?
That's where the branding seems to be a stretch, but it's the chain's hope to capture these slower customer habits.
Would you take in the ambience over a meal at McDonald's?