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Serving up the Past

With the 50th anniversary of its first restaurant coming up next April, McDonald’s decided to turn its Rock and Roll-themed restaurant in downtown Chicago into a new flagship location. The company hired three of the city’s top architects to submit contemporary designs. One had a two-story glass oval that evoked the Pompidou in Paris. Another had 100-foot-high golden arches that cars would drive through. One incorporated an amphitheater. The plans were playful, surprising and very modern.

But McDonald’s wound up rejecting them. Instead, an in-house team came up with a retro design inspired by Ray Kroc’s first restaurant. It’s got some up-to-date touches, like Wi-Fi, but it looks like the sort of burger joint where Fonzie and the gang would hang out.

McDonald’s seemed torn about which direction to take but ultimately bound by tradition. So how do you acknowledge your history while updating the brand? Blog jammers, who do you think does this well?

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