Ronald McDonald may want to trade in his red clodhoppers for Gucci loafers when he makes the rounds of his namesake Mesa eateries.
The owner of five Mesa McDonald’s plans to remake four of them into more upscale cafes by ditching the red, white and yellow decor and adding such amenities as adult lounges, softer lighting and bubbling fountains — the kind you look at, not drink from.
Two stores — one at McKellips Road and Country Club Drive and the other at Country Club Drive and Southern Avenue— are already in the middle of their makeovers.
Work on stores at Alma School Road and Main Street and at Mesa and University drives will begin soon, owner Denny Teufel said. All remodels are expected to be completed by Nov. 21, when the famous corporate clown begins his trek through Mesa to check on the new digs and perform a few magic shows to entertain local burger lovers.
The renovations will set Teufel back about $1 million, he said. McDonald’s is fronting nearly half the cash, which Teufel doesn’t have to pay back if the upgrade makes a big impact on sales.
Teufel also owns a McDonald’s at Power and McKellips roads, but that store is less than two years old and was designed from the ground up with more upscale amenities.
The older stores will get an earth tone exterior paint job with stack-stone features. The golden arches marquee will be the only remnant of the old red, white and yellow decor, Teufel said.
“It’s a new contemporary look,” he said.
Inside, Teufel is ripping out all the fluorescent lighting and replacing it with pendant lights over dining tables and recessed lighting in other areas of the store. Teufel is also raising the booth heights to provide more privacy, adding deli cases and 5-foot high towers of water bubbling into a pond. In three of the stores — there’s not enough room in the Mesa Drive location — he’s carving out space for adults with a sofa, coffee table, area rug and comfy chair or two — “A place where people can read the Wall Street Journal and have a cup of coffee,” Teufel said.
Teufel already has TVs in his eateries, but he’s adding free Nintendo, chess, checkers and backgammon sets. In the shop at Country Club and McKellips, where there is enough room, he’s setting up foosball and air hockey tables. All of the stores will get a color and art makeover pegged to a theme.
The McKellips store will be a Southwestern motif, with lots of teal in the wallpaper, fabric and art works, and wall dividers featuring an Aztec sun design.
The Southern Avenue store sports a cafe theme, with love seats and soothing tan, indigo and sea foam colors. At the Alma School location, it will be all Hawaiian, with cane ceiling fans and surfboard images in the kiddie play area. The employees will wear flowered shirt uniforms. The kids party room at the Mesa Drive shop will be done in a jungle theme.
All the makeovers are slated to appeal to changing neighborhoods, Teufel said.
“In west Mesa there are no new rooftops,” he said. “It’s changing demographics to a lot of empty nesters. We still have kids, but there are not as many families as there were 18 years ago when I first bought the stores. This is an investment in the future.”
Teufel said he was the first non-corporate owned store owner to put in a big play area for kids, but he also added doors to the play areas to keep the din from disturbing the rest of the dining room.
McDonald’s recently launched a nationwide campaign to update its image. That includes new menus, updated store features and a slogan aimed at the teen tradedemographic — “I’m Lovin’ It.”
The strategy seems to be working. The fast-food giant reported an 11 percent increase in sales and a 12 percent increase in income for the quarter that ended Sept. 30.
“This performance indicates that our revitalization plan is beginning to yield results,” McDonald’s chairman Jim Cantalupo said at the time of the earnings announcement. “Our focused and disciplined approach is producing strong sales and profitability improvements in our U.S. business and improved trends in some international markets; still, there are many opportunities to improve our business as we move forward."
Teufel, who has a lot of regulars that hardly fit the hop-hop image of the new slogan, hopes the new upscale look of his restaurants will appeal to all-age customers.
“I call it McNew. It will be a totally new experience,” he said.