These days, it seems like fast feeders can no longer look like fast feeders. In an effort to compete with No. 3 U.S. chain Starbucks, hamburger chains like McDonald's and Burger King are gradually rolling out revamped stores, complete with flat-panel TVs, comfortable seating and sleeker interior design-and even Subway is testing out a cafe concept.
Here's a look at a few fast feeder's cafe concepts:
McDonald's may not have been a place where customers previously liked to take a load off. Uncomfortable chairs and bright red-and-yellow accents and fluorescent lighting do not a comfortable lounging experience make. McDonald's seems to recognize that and is now in the throes of the largest store-by -store remodel in the company's history, an estimated $1 billion project. For the new design, the company is jettisoning the red-and-yellow interiors and bright-red roof and opting for more muted colors, and adding TVs and lounge areas with comfortable seating. The fast feeder is redesigning about 800 locations this year and expects to have the majority of its 14,000 U.S. locations sporting a new look by 2015.
Burger King in 2009 announced grand plans for a flashy contemporary redesign known as "20/20." The new look includes a red-and-black color scheme, pendant lighting and banners for partitions between booths. That redesign has since been revised by new owners, 3G Capital, and the price tag cut in half -- to an average of $275,000 per location -- in hopes of making it more affordable for franchisees struggling with sales declines. The company is also offering an incentive package of reductions in franchise renewal and royalty fees. Burger King hopes to get 1,000 locations remodeled in the next year-and-a-half. Owners of more than 800 restaurants are already onboard for the revamp.
Sandwich giant Subway is testing an upscale-cafe concept, known as Subway Cafe. Originally launched in Alexandria, Va., by a franchisee, the test now has about 15 locations, with plans to add about 10 before year's end. The cafes are designed to give off a more comfy feel, complete with brick or wood-paneled walls, and even -- no kidding -- the occasional fireplace. Subway, which earlier this year became the world's largest chain by number of locations, has already this year opened nearly 1,000 locations globally, and plans to open 1,000 more before the end of the year. But the company has not said whether the cafe concept will make it out of test phase.