It's no secret that McDonald's is struggling. The chain recently fired CEO Don Thompson and replaced him shortly there after with former Chief Brand Officer Steve Easterbrook. Thanks to slumping sales, franchise owners have been complaining about the chain's lengthy menu and "hard-to-make" items like McWraps and the planned customized burger program, "Create Your Taste."
So New York Times' writer James Stewart asked chef/restaurateur/Food Network star Geoffrey Zakarian to dine with him at a McDonald's location in New York City to discuss how the chain could turn its brand around. Turns out this was Zakarian's first time ever at a McDonald's. The duo ordered a grilled chicken wrap, a Quarter Pounder, fries, and coffee and talked about their experience. Below, the 14 best lines:
1) James Stewart on the ambiance: "Harsh fluorescent lighting made everyone look even paler than usual at this time of year. The color scheme was garish - McDonald's signature bright red and yellow."
2) Geoffrey Zakarian on the grilled chicken wrap: "Why would anyone come here for this?"
3) Stewart on the Quarter Pounder: "It seemed awfully small for a quarter-pound of beef."
4) Zakarian upon tasting the Quarter Pounder: "Well, it is what it is."
5) Stewart on enjoying the burger: "I thought it was pretty good, as long as you like soft and squishy... I ate my half and, seeing that Mr. Zakarian had left the rest of his untouched, finished his half, too."
6) Zakarian on McDonald's fries: "I wouldn't change anything."
7) Zakarian on what he would order again: "I'd come back for the fries and coffee."
8) Zakarian on McDonald's potential: "Of course, the food could be better... All fast food could be better."
9) Zakarian on why McDonald's needs to continue to sell affordable burgers: "Price and value are important, and people don't want to wait."
10) Zakarian on what McDonald's does need to change: "They need to tell a better story, talk more about quality, the source of the ingredients, address the health concerns. I can assure you that if they had a great story and a better company culture, this same burger would taste a lot better."
11) Zakarian on why McDonald's should limit its menu: "McDonald's should do what it does well. You get the feeling they're throwing things against the wall to see what sticks. You can't be all things to all people."
12) Zakarian on how frequently one should eat a burger: "It's a treat. People love them, but no one should be eating one every day."
13) Zakarian on why Shack Shack is preferred over McDonald's: "The Shake Shack version wasn't any healthier than the Quarter Pounder... But Shake Shack stresses that it uses only ‘100 percent all-natural, Angus beef' and ‘no hormones and no antibiotics ever.' McDonald's says only that its beef patties are made from ‘100 percent ground beef.'"
14) An architect and customer on the design of McDonald's stores: "McDonald's seems to be treating all of us like we're messy kids. It's like everything was chosen so it can be swabbed down."