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McDonald’s May Unveil New Restaurant Concept To Anchor Chicago HQ

The fast-food behemoth wants to contribute to the West Loop nightlife

McDonald’s plans to open a restaurant, perhaps a new concept, inside their new Chicago headquarters (rendering).
Sterling Bay/Gensler
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Could McDonald’s unveil a new restaurant concept inside their new city headquarters which Curbed Chicago covered earlier this week? Crews have begun construction on the West Loop building where the fast-food chain’s corporate office will occupy 485,000 square-feet. While media gathered to cover the groundbreaking, Golden Arches CEO Steve Easterbrook told the Sun-Times that "a restaurant concept of some sort" will fill the ground floor of the nine-story building set to open in spring 2018.

Easterbrook wouldn’t divulge more information. McDonald’s has toyed around with new concepts in recent times. Those include "McDonald’s of the future" models outfitted self-serve touchscreen kiosks that launched at a River North location at 10 E. Chicago Ave. and table service that are slated to launch nationwide.

Randolph Restaurant Row is one of the hottest dining districts in America, with trendy restaurants including Rick Bayless’ Leña Brava, Brendan Sodikoff’s Au Cheval, and Stephanie Izard’s Girl & the Goat lining the neighborhood, and Easterbrook said McDonald’s wants to contribute to the West Loop’s dining and nightlife. Though not fast food, Au Cheval, Umami Burger, Kuma’s Corner, Grange Hall Burger Bar and Shake Shack are burger destinations which have already opened spots in the area or plan on doing so soon. The Tribune pointed out it’s unclear if McDonald’s would partner with another restaurant group to fill that ground space.

McDonald’s new building at Randolph and Carpenter is part of the effort by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s team to convince companies to move their corporate headquarters to Chicago. The fast-food chain’s offices currently reside in suburban Oak Brook where they’ve been located since 1971. McDonald’s called Chicago home from 1955 until then. Test kitchens and the chain’s training center, Hamburger University, are part of the return to Chicago. The company, still trying to find their footing among younger customers, hopes its move to the city will resonate with those more youthful customers.