Once again, more info on the McDonalds (Mac Deauxneaulds) Cajun Rest. These guys are even less intelligent than I thought.
Cajun cookin' adding spice to McDonald's
By David Leiva
The Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS — It won't smell or taste like or resemble McDonald's.
And that's just what the fast-food company is banking on to bring customers to its Cajun-style restaurant coming here.
McDonald's will open a new venture, Chef Mac's, on the first floor of an office building across from New Orleans City Hall and the Louisiana Superdome in September. Modeled after a similar eatery in Orlando, Fla., the new restaurant will have chandeliers, leather couches, stylish tiles and upgraded restrooms.
McDonald's director of operations, Bill Garrett, describes it as "upscale, quick gourmet casual."
New Orleans is an interesting testing ground for the restaurant. In this city, where people live to eat, there are 3,088 po-boy, Creole, Cajun, seafood, ethnic and soul-food restaurants, few of which are part of a chain. And the lunchtime crowds are only minutes away from the French Quarter.
That has not deterred McDonald's, suffering from a two-year slump and seeing innovation as the key to its long-term success. The company has tested a number of new concepts in recent years, including diners, coffee shops and self-service kiosks.
Not all concepts are likely to survive, particularly under a new management that has slowed expansion and capital spending and taken a back-to-basics approach at U.S. McDonald's, where speed and service have lagged.
Ed Strong, a marketing professor at Tulane University, said the idea of looking into diverse areas makes sense when traditional restaurants no longer put out the numbers Wall Street craves.
The rest of the industry is doing the same, said Greg Sanders, editor and associate publisher of the quick-food-service trade publication, QSR Magazine.
"American taste has changed," Sanders said. "Speed is important, but quality is now as big."
McDonald's, the world's largest fast-food operator, is trying to regain momentum after a disappointing performance in 2002. Last year, sales exceeded $15.4 billion, but problems with overseas restaurants and companywide spending led to a $743 million, or 45 percent, drop in earnings from 2001.
McDonald's said the Big Easy restaurant will present an upscale menu that locals will recognize.
Walter Grote, a New York native who worked five years in a Cajun restaurant in Houma, La., has been hired as the executive chef. The local-flavored menu will include Louisiana shrimp, po-boys, muffulettas, barbecue chicken, chicken cordon bleu and margarita pizzas. All will be served on plates, not plastic dishes.
Specialty coffees will be sold, along with desserts including praline cheesecake and bread pudding.
Garrett said customers will order and pick up at a 30-foot circular counter. Table service is still under consideration. Prices are expected to be less than $10 per entrée.
"A lot of this is still in development," said Debbie Vice, regional marketing manager.
McDonald's traditional foods will remain on the menu.
Vice said the restaurant will try to appeal to the downtown business clientele.
The average McDonald's does about $1.5 million in sales annually. Garrett said the new restaurant will beat that figure, and Tom Weatherly, of the Louisiana Restaurant Association, agreed.
"The food industry in New Orleans is very diverse," Weatherly said. "Each one of those segments have their own needs and niche."
But Sanders, of QSR Magazine, doesn't share the optimism and says entertaining ideas outside of burger and fries only means one thing.
"They're throwing darts at a board."
Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company