Near the end of 2017, Chicago's beloved Rock 'n' Roll McDonald's—the kitschy, two-story restaurant that served Big Macs amid display cases filled with rock memorabilia—was demolished, making way for a fancy new flagship location. While the two-lane drive-thru is already operating, the rest of the city's newest McDonald's outpost (still located at 600 N Clark St) will open for business on the morning of Thursday, August 9.
Walking into the new McDonald's, the first thing you'll likely notice is the garden of white birch trees and ferns surrounded by windows that appear to be floating in the middle of the building. The 19,000-square-foot structure was primarily built using steel and cross-laminated timber, featuring gigantic floor-to-ceiling windows, cylindrical lighting that is similar to the McDonald's location in its West Loop headquarters and some hanging plants that lend a bright and natural feel to the dining area.
Customers can enter through the east or west side of the building and are directed toward the center of the room, where 12 touchscreen kiosks can be used to place orders (alternatively, guests can also walk up to the counter or the dedicated McCafé area to place food and drink orders in person). The restaurant offers table service if you're sticking around to eat, though visitors will notice that this location has fewer seats than its previous iteration. Owners claim that the efficiencies of the new ordering system will get customers in and out the door faster than before.
The flagship McDonald's exterior features are equally impressive: An array of solar panels mounted on steel frames that will generate 60 percent of the energy used by the restaurant, which already uses 50 percent less energy than a regular McDonald's location. During Chicago's warmer months, an adjacent plaza will offer outdoor seating and views of the surrounding neighborhood. More than 40 percent of the lot that the building sits on is pedestrian or garden space, making this McDonald's a veritable oasis in the crowded urban landscape of River North.
And in case you're wondering what happened to the McDonald's and rock 'n' roll memorabilia that used to be housed in the restaurant, franchise owner and operator Nick Karavites assured us that the majority of the items (many of which were part of his personal collection) have been safely placed in storage.
Check out Chicago's new flagship McDonald's location below—once it opens tomorrow morning, the fast-food beacon will be open seven days a week, 24 hours a day.