Flatiron McDonald’s on 23rd & Madison Reopens With Trendy Makeover
By Louis Huneke
Longtime residents of the Flatiron District may remember that several years ago, a McDonald’s located at 23rd Street and Madison Avenue closed due to construction, leaving one less fast food establishment to feed our cravings. With the establishment recently reopened, New Yorkers will once again be tempted by the famous Golden Arches. However, the newly re-opened McDonald’s has undergone quite a makeover since it shut its doors.
In line with a franchise-wide trend, this branch offers a refreshing setting that is far easier on the eyes than the traditional McDonald’s store. With wood furnishings, large bright plasma screens, leather chairs and sofas, and a number of colorful wall murals, the 23rd Street McDonald’s suggests style and comfort. By and large, this McDonald’s has remade itself in the image of the Flatiron community.
At first glance the restaurant seems fairly inconspicuous – that is until you literally see the writing on the wall. Head-turning word murals grace the stairway and lounge walls. Carefully chosen words like “crunch, coffee, fresh, warm, taste, sweet” elicit sensations one would associate with an afternoon brunch. Written in white chalkboard-style text, the mural pays homage to the many colleges that call the Flatiron District home.
Another word mural emblazoned on the stairway wall highlights the prime location of the chain. Set in contrasting background and text colors, words as instantly evocative as “Flatiron Building, Madison Avenue, Park Avenue, Broadway, Madison Square Park” grace the wall. Each varying color conveys a different mood associated with the corresponding neighborhoods. Each of the aforementioned locations is mere steps away from the entrance, giving you the feeling that the whole city is at your fingertips as you munch on your Big Mac.
The 2nd floor is decked out with its own collection of art, possessing its own unique style. One mural in the 2nd floor lounge area captures the demographic makeup of the Flatiron community. Set in a collage form, hip and tech-savvy individuals donned in suits smile brightly, with an air of youthful self-importance, showing off the latest in smart technology with headsets, smartphones, tablets and laptops. Some of the individuals in the painting are amiably enjoying a nice cup o’ joe, while others are busy and seem lost in their own world. The mural draws out the trendiness and young start-up enthusiasm characteristic of the Flatiron neighborhood.
Perhaps the most expressive painting in the entire restaurant is in the middle sitting area of the 2nd floor. A young, attractive woman with pink sunshades listens to her Beats headphones with titles underneath, sporting a carefree, optimistic smile. Words are inscribed to the left of her image reflecting her moods and ambitions. Her optimism and confidence are palpable. Alas, a wooden framed column obstructs a full view of the painting, serving as a reminder that for all its new style, this is still a McDonald’s.
McDonald’s may be perceived as the bottom of the barrel in terms of decor, cuisine and atmospheric ambiance. But with a tweak to its aesthetic, a familiar fast food chain proves its ability to subvert expectations. And a fast food chain feels like just a little bit more.