Five months after McDonald’s announced the impending arrival of CosMc’s — a spinoff QSR chain “with the DNA of McDonald’s but its own unique personality” — the company has pulled back the curtain on the mystery restaurant.
There were some surprises. First off, the concept is tailored to the late afternoon daypart, when traffic slows at many QSRs.
“One area of focus has been identifying ways for McDonald’s to participate in attractive and fast-growing categories in IEO [Informal Eating Out] and we’ve honed in on specialty beverages and coffee, predominantly in the afternoon beverage pick me up occasion, where we are under-indexed,” McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said during the company’s Investor Day on Wednesday.
He continued: “In our top six markets, this is a $1 billion category that’s growing faster than the rest of IEO and with superior margins, and it’s a space that we believe we have the right to win.”
Kempczinski said that “customer love for our brand is stronger than any time in our history,” giving McDonald’s the chance to roll the dice on entering “new areas to grow the business.”
The drinks on CosMc’s menu were too complex to integrate into McDonald’s existing kitchens, and this roadblock sparked the idea for CosMc’s a little over a year ago, Kempczinski said.
McDonald’s designed the concept to offer a differentiated offering that diners would find compelling, basing it on a “part alien, part surfer, part robot” McDonald’s character from the 1980s named CosMc, he said. McDonald’s also shaped the chain to have global appeal and to offer highly incremental unit economics.
“Our success tomorrow is always dependent on our ability to stay ahead of our customers’ changing needs, while reimagining what a restaurant can be,” he said.
Check out some key details about the CosMc’s concept below.
It’s beverage-forward and hyper-customized
CosMc’s menu offers 12 iced, non-coffee beverages, three non-coffee blended frappes, three blended coffee frappes, a range of 10 hot coffees and teas, and seven iced coffee drinks.
The concept also offers soft drinks and select McDonald’s food products, as well as signature food items such as the Spicy Queso Sandwich and Cookie Butter McPops.
CosMc’s most complex cold beverages offer up to nine categories of customization, and hot beverages offer even more customization — the most complex drinks include 15 personalization category opportunities.
For example, the Tumeric Spiced Latte allows customers to select from:
- One of four milk options
- Up to eight flavored syrup options (that can be “Lite” or “Extra”)
- An espresso shot
- Black pepper sprinkles
- Up to 10 servings of three sweeteners (liquid cane syrup, Splenda and sugar)
- Hot foam
- Whipped cream
- A temperature of choice (“Not Too Hot” or “Extra Hot”)
It’s starting in three markets
The first CosMc’s restaurant will open this week in Bolingbrook, Illinois. An additional nine CosMc’s restaurants will open by the end of 2024 in the Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio, Texas, markets.
The pilot will span at least one year
“We’re in test. We’re open to learning all sorts of things. And I think we’ll see based on what we learn in that, how [CosMc’s] does or doesn’t work with [McDonald’s] master brands,” Kempczinski said.
The restaurant format is variable
McDonald’s is testing a variety of drive-thru configurations, including multiple lanes, at its CosMc’s restaurants.
“This specialty experience allows customers to be served at their own pace, based on the size and complexity of their order,” McDonald’s said in an investor presentation.
Diners will place orders via a “dynamic and highly visual digital menu board.
Employees will have less defined roles
CosMc’s will assign order pickup windows to diners when their items are complete, meaning simple orders and mobile orders will receive faster service.
This fulfillment process allows for a “streamlined labor model, where the crew is able to flex across roles and feel confident in their ability to meet customers’ needs throughout the process,” the company said.
It’s unclear how many employees each CosMc’s restaurant will staff.
Sandwiches are freshly made
CosMc’s employees prepare sandwiches after a diner places their order, “leveraging ingredients that are cooked and prepared on-site that day,” according to CosMc’s website.