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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 2, 2001

McCafe joins coffee klatch in U.S.

Associated Press

CHICAGO — Hold the fries — make it a latte and a scone to go.

McDonald's new shop in Chicago, McCafe, offers pastries with its gourmet coffees. The shop opens today.

Associated Press

Hoping to win over some of the gourmet coffee crowd from Starbucks, McDonald's is opening its first U.S.-based McCafe this week in downtown Chicago after enjoying success with the concept abroad.

The experimental McCafe, located behind Marshall Field's flagship department store and sandwiched between busy Michigan Avenue and State Street, offers high-end coffee and desserts in a 30-seat cafe designed to look like a French bistro.

If it works, restaurant industry experts say dozens or hundreds more U.S. McCafes could follow. If it doesn't, it will join such failures as Arch Deluxe, McPizza and the Big Xtra in the recycle bin.

"If it takes off, it could be a great new thing for McDonald's. It's a good complement to their existing restaurants," said Douglas Christopher, analyst for Crowell, Weedon and Co. in Los Angeles. "But there's competition from Starbucks and some individual places. It remains to be seen."

McCafe is the fast-food chain's latest effort to beef up domestic sales whose growth has shrunk as the fast-food market nears saturation point. Other recent innovations include new menu items, a prototype diner in Kokomo, Ind., and adding such chains as Boston Market, Chipotle Mexican Grills and Pret A Manger.

McDonald's operates nearly 300 McCafes abroad, including 52 in Australia, where the first one opened in 1993.