McDonald's starts testing new CosMc's beverage-led restaurants
CEO Chris Kempczinski first announced the idea in July.
The golden arches are officially welcoming CosMc's -- a new small-format, beverage-led restaurant concept with retro-style stores -- that embraces an air of McDonald's nostalgia into the fast food chain universe.
The first location in Bolingbrook, Illinois is one of approximately 10 CosMc’s pilot locations, McDonald's announced, where the brand will have new opportunities to create "mood-boosting escapes" across the Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio metro areas, all set to open by the end of 2024.
What to expect on the new CosMc's menu
The new menu boasts "bold, refreshing beverages" and a small food lineup of "tasty treats," including some McDonald's favorites.
"CosMc’s menu is rooted in beverage exploration, with bold and unexpected flavor combinations, vibrant colors and functional boosts," the company stated in a press release. "You’ll see a range of specialty lemonades and teas, indulgent blended beverages and cold coffee – think Sour Cherry Energy Slush, Tropical Spiceade and S’mores Cold Brew. Make it yours with customizations at every turn: popping boba, flavor syrups, energy or Vitamin C shots, and so much more."
CosMc’s will set out to explore "how we might solve the 3 pm slump by lifting humans up with every sip," the release stated.
CosMc’s will offer a new digital and Drive Thru experience with "dynamic menu boards and cashless payment devices" to simplify the ordering and payment process and pickup windows will be assigned once a customer's order is ready.
CosMc's concept takes off at McDonald's
Earlier this year on an analyst call in July, McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski first touted CosMc's as "a small format concept with all the DNA of McDonald's but its own unique personality."
The concept, driven by McDonald's new business ventures team, is seemingly ahead of schedule since Kempczinski said they would begin testing in "a small handful of sites" in select locations next year.
The fast food chain recently tapped into new marketing tactics to capitalize on culturally relavant characters, including the limited-edition Grimace birthday meal and milkshake, which sparked thousands of consumers to engage on a viral social media trend around the purple, fuzzy, fictional character.
"Grimace has been everywhere in the past few months, all over the news, and more than 3 billion views on TikTok," the CEO said on the earnings call. "This viral phenomenon is yet another proof point of the power of marketing at McDonald's today."
As a result, second quarter sales skyrocketed by 14% overall last quarter due to the influx of orders for the light purple-hued berries and cream milkshake, with customers looking to film their own version of the viral horror-theme video trend.
Kempczinski said that "the theme was Grimace" this quarter, which ended June 30 and included the June 12 launch of the limited-time menu item.
Additionally, he said the McDonald's marketing efforts had a direct effect on better food quality scores from customers.
"The more customers love our brand, the more they love our food," Kempczinski said.
According to the company's financial statements for the quarter that ended June 30, U.S. sales jumped by over 10% at restaurants open for at least one year. Global sales increased by nearly 11.7% at restaurants open for at least one year.
An earlier version of this story was first published July 28, 2023.