Is This McDonald’s?

One nice thing about cafes and restaurants in Europe is that they don’t rush you. No one scurries over to haul off your plates after your fork clinks down from the final bite, and nobody immediately hustles you for dessert or slams down the check before you’ve even had time to digest. I like that. Upon returning to the states you instantly notice the waitstaff (and their cheery grins) hovering about with the upsells. The air of urgency can be annoying. However, if you’re in Europe, and you’re in a hurry, sometimes you just want to “fill up” and dash. It’s not always easy to for me to express my desire to dine and dash. Rather I just expect a solid hour commitment when I sit down at a local place to eat.

While showing my Mom around the Netherlands we were hungry. I’d taken her to a few of my favorite local spots but today we were en route to a museum, and didn’t want to languish in a corner table from noon til three.

We saw a McDonald’s, made the usual jokes, and walked in for a burger and salad. I was schocked. This McDonalds was really, really nice! I can’t believe I’m writing this but I enjoyed being there! It seems I’m way behind the times, and over the past rew years McDonald’s has rebranded some stores in a Starbucks-eque cafe style chique. And what they’ve done is pretty aesthetically appealing.

I figured it was a Europe thing. I’ve read McDonald’s maintains nicer, larger restaurants overseas, and some locals actually do make the arches a destination for a Big Mac, or “Royale” as it’s called in France.

The location on Kalverstraat, a pedestrial shopping mall in the heart of Amsterdam was clean, well maintained, replete with comfortable chairs cozy spaces. A week later, departing Schiphol airport, I had coffee, milk and a croissant while killing a few hours awaiting my flight. Location? A beautiful, quiet and modern mezzanine overlooking the departures/transit area. You guessed it – it was a McDonald’s.

Upon my return home this week, my newfound McDonald’s curiousity brought me to the Belleview and I-25 location near my work. Sure enough this one was just as nice as the two Amsterdam locations, with soft leather chairs, WiFi and soft orange and yellow lighting. The staff was wearing jet black shirts and looked well kept and professional. I had a sausage biscuit and coffee before biking over to work.

Unfortunately the food is still the McDonald’s from my youth, and smells just as bad when carried onto an airplane. But without getting into fat and calorie counts I’m certain a Quarter Pounder and a Diet coke won’t induce any more heart attacks than a Starbucks triple mocha latte with whip cream, downed with an oily muffin.

There it is – three McDonald’s restaurants in two weeks. Good job McDonald’s on the rebranding. I may not return often but it’s a nice look. Sorry it took me three years to notice it.

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