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A photo of the CosMc’s sign with the sun in the background.
Customers were waiting in lines the last more than two hours for CosMc’s.
Ashok Selvam/Eater Chicago

The CosMc’s Drive-Thru Is Utter Pandemonium

Security guards, bribes, two-hour waits, and $100 orders: Welcome to CosMc’s opening week in suburban Chicago

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.

Around noon, a security guard standing in the parking lot at CosMc’s slowly gazed at the wasteland of cars waiting to try the new “beverage-focused” McDonald’s spinoff that opened to the public at 6 a.m. on Thursday, December 7, in suburban Chicago.

Drive-thru waits hovered around the two-hour zone, with a line of cars zig-zagging through a parking lot that provided spaces for customers at Best Buy, Aldi, and XSport Fitness. As the clock ticked toward 2:30 p.m., some got desperate. Two teens in a Black SUV began offering customers $10 to cut the line. Their attempt to cut was thwarted by local police and McDonald’s staff.

“Were we prepared for this?” the guard, on loan from McDonald’s West Loop headquarters, asked his colleagues.

CosMc’s opened in Bolingbrook, a town of about 74,000, located about 45 minutes west of Chicago by car. The town’s filled with mile markers like a Starbucks drive-thru, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Chili’s. A McDonald’s spokesperson says cars began lining up at 3:30 a.m. Thursday. A man who services McDonald’s CO2 tanks on Friday morning said that CosMc’s was on track to go through double the supply of CO2 that a normal McDonald’s would in a week.

The dark blue and yellow facade on CosMc’s drive-thru windows. Ashok Selvam/Eater Chicago

The restaurant is designed to be drive-thru only. The public isn’t permitted to enter. Through a trio of drive-thru windows, passers-by could see a variety of syrups in pump bottles for hot and cold drinks, a soft-serve machine (for frappes and more), and mini ovens. Once cars reach one of four drive-thru lanes, they’ll be greeted with an — almost — familiar refrain, “Hello, and welcome to... CosMc’s.”

Staff was trained at McDonald’s Innovation Center, located in the Chicago suburb of Romeoville. The restaurant opened with its full menu. The food selections aren’t heavy on meat. Bacon strips peek out from the bun of the creamy avocado tomatillo sandwich and McDonald’s signature sausage patty is nestled between a slice of pepper jack cheese and an egg in the spicy queso sandwich. There’s also something called “McPops” — bite-sized pastries filled with hazelnut spread, apple-cinnamon, or “cookie butter.” There are also cookies.

A yellow painted sign with a drink on it says “Have a nice sip.” Ashok Selvam/Eater Chicago

In the first two days of business, customers are being adventurous. The McDonald’s spokesperson notes that ABC Chicago talked to a customer who spent $104 on her order.

The location is a former Boston Market, which once fell under the McDonald’s portfolio. The company kept the real estate, which neighbors a corporate-owned Golden Arches. In the future, expect CosMc’s locations to take up about half the space the Bolingbrook restaurant. There are about 10 planned for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and San Antonio and they’ll open sometime next year, according to the spokesperson.

Internally, McDonald’s is calling CosMc’s a “learning lab,” a place where they can experiment with items: “​​At CosMc’s, we’re exploring how we might solve the 3 p.m. slump by lifting humans up with every sip. Ready to blast off?” a news release reads.

The sugary drink list includes a s’more cold brew, Sour Cherry Energy Burst, and a turmeric spiced latte. Ray Kroc never had to worry about stocking turmeric at his suburban Des Plaines location, often falsely credited as the first McDonald’s. A replica of the restaurant which opened in 1955, still stands in the suburbs. Regardless, the company spokesperson was unsure where the Golden Arches sources its golden spice, and this post will be updated to reflect any new information.

Despite the mystery about turmeric, influencers are lining up. Outside the restaurant, a Chicago man wearing a Sox hat walks in front holding his smartphone and recording a video. He says business brought him to DuPage County and he decided to stop by at CosMc’s with the hope he could create a viral video. The McDonald’s spokesperson says they didn’t have to do much to attract influencers. Many posted videos on Thursday right after the opening.

Cars line up to order from CosMc’s in suburban Chicago on Friday, December 8. Ashok Selvam/Eater Chicago

On social media, CosMc’s logo and packaging are receiving praise. McDonald’s is also taking a page from comic book movies in referencing its characters and menu items. Egg McMuffin and the McFlurry are touted as “from the M Universe” on the menu, which takes customers back to CosMc, an obscure alien introduced in 1987. Cos used to run with Ronald’s Playland crew alongside luminaries such as the Fry Guys, Hamburglar, and Mayor McCheese. The alien’s design appears based on the robot from the original Lost in Space, complete with Slinky-style arms.

There are no graphic references to the alien or its lost history with the Grimace and company. However, McDonald’s familiar golden “M” is emblazoned on the exterior.

But not everyone approves of CosMc’s landing. Around 1:15 p.m., a woman riding shotgun in a white sedan starts yelling out of her car, chastising customers, “Shame on you for supporting McDonald’s.” Her motivations are unclear as the car sped away in the direction of Ross Dress For Less.

CosMc’s, 285 N. Weber Road, Bolingbrook, open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. through December 24; closed December 25; open 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. starting December 26; closed January 1.

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