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Famed Rock ‘N’ Roll McDonald’s Futuristic Replacement Opens its Drive-Thru Downtown

The rest of the restaurant should open really soon in River North

Crews work on a new McDonald’s in River North.
Curbed Chicago/Jay Koziarz
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.

While the main dining room remains under construction, the drive-thru for McDonald’s replacement for its iconic Rock ‘n’ Roll location opened on Thursday in River North. A McDonald’s spokesperson confirmed the opening as signs have gone up at Clark and Ontario. The drive-thru is part of a futuristic new design — complete with plenty of trees and solar panels — McDonald’s is trying out in River North.

Demolition crews razed the Rock ‘n’ Roll-themed fast-food restaurant earlier this year after 12 years at 600 N. Clark Street. The original Rock ‘n’ Roll McDonald’s debuted in 1983 and gave way to the most current incarnation in 2005. A McDonald’s spokesperson said they’ll reveal more information on the restaurant soon as an opening date for the dining room is imminent. A media event’s planned for as early as next week.

The signs announcing the drive-thru’s opening.
Curbed Chicago/Jay Koziarz

McDonald’s is modernizing its restaurants under the corporation’s “McDonald’s of the Future” initiative in which they’re upgrading existing restaurants and adding amenities like touchscreen ordering and USB ports to power electronics. Customers can get a good idea of what to expect by visiting the company’s ground-floor restaurant inside its new West Loop headquarters that opened in April. While the international menu — full of items available in other countries — won’t be duplicated elsewhere the West Loop restaurant’s atmosphere and design will be replicated. These McDonald’s are also more friendly for table service, deliveries, and mobile ordering. The initiative should hit all McDonald’s in some way or fashion in the next two years.

Locally, architect Carol Ross Barney is handling the design for the new River North space. The design features tons of glass and 27-foot-tall ceilings. The architect also helped the city on the Chicago Riverwalk redesign.

Stay tuned this month for more news on this 19,000-square-foot new restaurant near the heart of Chicago.

McDonald’s, 600 N. Clark Street, drive-thru now open, hours not posted.

Rock 'n Roll McDonald's

600 N. Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654