Fast-food chains freshening up

November 21, 2014 Laura McDaniel
With the ever-increasing number of QSR options and decreasing number of people eating food outside of their home, fast -food restaurants need to set themselves apart in order to appeal to as many consumers as possible. What are fast food chains doing today to stand out? The Lowell Sun wrote about it here:

Wendy’s recently renovated its Lowell store on Chelmsford Street. The nation’s No. 3 hamburger chain unveiled a more streamlined and modern  

LOWELL -- Three of the city's fast-food franchises have undergone overhauls almost simultaneously, an effort by Burger King, McDonald's and Wendy's to pump up sales at a time when the industry is striving for more growth.

Nearly next door to one another on Chelmsford Street, Burger King recently knocked down and rebuilt its restaurant with a more modern design. Wendy's, just down the street, reopened in recent weeks after a drastic rebuild that also features a more modern look. The sign out front also features the chain's new logo, with a new "Wendy's" script and an updated Wendy.

Now, McDonald's is rebuilding its restaurant on Rogers Street, with a plan to reopen late this fall, according to the company. It is the latest in a series of store overhauls in the Lowell area for the leading fast-food chain.

Chelmsford's Drum Hill store was redone in 2008, and Dracut's in 2009. The two Billerica locations were redone in 2012 and 2013, and the Plain Street McDonald's in Lowell was rebuilt in 2010.

In Tewksbury, the Andover Street (Route 133) store maintains the older exterior look but had its interior remodeled last year, with more modern furniture and wall designs and large TVs. The Route 38 McDonald's, at 1928 Main St. in Tewksbury, is not slated for a remodeling, the company said.

Decisions about the details of modernizing stores is usually determined by the local McDonald's franchise owner or operator.

But the stores generally have a more contemporary decor, two drive-through lanes, flat-screen TVs, fireplaces and digital menu boards.

The traditional fast-food segment of the restaurant industry is struggling, with mature brands like Burger King, McDonald's and Wendy's facing what Sarah Lockyer, the editor-in-chief of Nation's Restaurant News, calls "stiff competition" from fast-casual brands that are a little more upscale but still affordable.

Those chains, such as Chipotle and Smashburger -- which recently opened its first Massachusetts location in Natick, and plans further expansion -- "have welcoming unit design and service upgrades that brands like McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's, frankly, haven't kept pace with," Lockyer said.

"A redesigned unit can present a refreshed picture for these fast-food players, offering something new to both lapsed and current customers," she said. "Digital menu boards, communal tables, free wi-fi and more modern lighting has proven to be attractive to millennial consumers, a key demographic for fast food."

Read the entire article here.

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