McDonald's Failed CEO Was Reluctant To Make The Brand Like Chipotle

On Wednesday McDonald’s announced that CEO Don Thompson is leaving the company.

The brand’s same store sales declined with Thompson at the helm.

McDonald’s arguably failed to capitalise on consumer demand for “fast-casual” dining while Thompson was running the business.

Restaurants like Chipotle and Panera Bread that offer custom meals and premium ingredients at higher prices have become wildly popular.

Last November I went to a Don Thompson talk hosted by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, where I asked the fast-food CEO if McDonald’s should embrace the fast-casual model.

Thompson suggested McDonald’s was reluctant to adopt that model.

“I would say we’re a restaurant business,” Thompson said. “And as we move forward, if we can offer multiple conveniences, multiple ways of interacting with the brand, whether that appears to be fast casual in the case of what we’re trying in Australia now…or it appears to be fast relative to a drive through, we need to satisfy those occasions.”

McDonald’s Australia is trying a more expensive menu that allows customers to build their own burgers using touch-screen kiosks and select from a variety of toppings and sauces, similar to what you might experience at Five Guys or Shake Shack.

The fast-food chain has also been trying the burger kiosks in southern California.

“If anything, I think McDonald’s will be more and more and more, and not just this type restaurant or that type, but a restaurant that’s trying to satisfy diverse needs,” Thompson said. That may be the only way to satisfy such a huge audience — Thompson claims the company serves 70 million people every day.

Here’s what a meal at McDonald’s Australia looks like:

Disclosure: Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, is an investor in Business Insider.

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