You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 12:13 p.m.

McDonald's on West Stadium goes upscale with contemporary look after remodel

By Janet Miller

The McDonald’s Restaurant on West Stadium Boulevard in Ann Arbor has gone upscale.

Gone are the bright yellow and red colors sported by Ronald McDonald, replaced by an earthy palette of soft browns with terra cotta accents. The couch style seating has made way for two- and four-person tables along with round high-top tables with blonde wood-top stools. “My mother and her girlfriends wouldn’t sit here,” said William F. Pickard.

As the national chain works to broaden its appeal from young children to their mothers, college students and working professionals, Pickard decided it was time to redesign the restaurant, originally built in the mid-80s. There’s a flat screen television and wall outlets for computers, contemporary lighting and lots of light natural wood.


McDonalds owner/operator William F. Pickard inside the redesigned restaurant. Pickard owns six McDonalds — four in the Ann Arbor/Saline area, one in Detroit and one in Dearborn.

Janet Miller |

“We tried to get it to have a more contemporary look, that Panera Bread look,” Pickard said.

In fact, as the chain rolls out menu changes such as ts “Favorites Under 400 Calories” campaign, its main competitor has shifted from Burger King to restaurants such as Panera Bread, said Sean Carleton, director of operations . The decor helps separate the restaurant from the pack, Pickard said. “I don’t think most quick service restaurants have this kind of contemporary decor or Wi-Fi.”

The McDonald’s interior was closed for two weeks for the remodel while the drive-through remained open. The restaurant celebrated a grand re-opening Wednesday with music, speeches and menu deals. The new look is meant to attract more high school and college students with its enhanced Wi-Fi and contemporary look. Positioned mid-way between Pioneer and Skyline high schools and with the University of Michigan nearby, about half of the restaurant’s traffic already is students, said Rob Mitton, general manager.

That is expected to grow. U-M students have been frustrated in the past because of the lack of computer outlets, Carleton said.

As part of the shift to go up-scale, even the terminology has changed. It’s no longer fast food, Pickard said. McDonalds is a quick service restaurant. He would not release the cost of the remodel, but said that McDonald’s corporate covers some of the expenses. Pickard also would not release projected sales growth from the remodel, only that he expected revenues to increase.


The double drive was added as service has shifted from inside to outside. This will mean quicker service and less congestion in the parking lot.

Janet Miller |

The company allows owner/operators to select redesign plans from four or five national companies, each offering three or four options. Pickard selected Michigan-based Charter House Innovations.

But the most important part of the redesign was creating a double drive through, Pickard said, reflecting the shift from ordering inside to ordering outside. Service will be faster and it will reduce backups in the parking lot.

The Stadium McDonald’s is the latest of the four franchises Pickard owns in the Ann Arbor area to get a facelift. The South State Street location was razed and rebuilt a year ago, and the Lohr Road and Saline location were spiffed-up in 2008. Pickard also owns a McDonald’s in Detroit and Dearborn.


5c0++ H4d13y

Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 1:46 a.m.

Like others I like the location but the took the fast out of fast food.


Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 12:55 a.m.

I can remember sitting on the white tile benches on the side of the original building just down the road.. That was a treat. If I want upscale I go to a nice resturant downtown. McD. is a fast food burger joint.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Fri, Aug 31, 2012 : 4:10 p.m.

Originally, the place had no benches or chairs. You ordered and got your food and went out and ate in your car. That McDonald's was in the building that is now Lewis' Jewelers. Great times, with extremely fast food from a short menu. It was the only one from the Jackson stand to Dearborn, I think. There were tons and tons of customers. Ah, the good old days. As I tell Kroger and others, if I wanted to go to Walmart, I would go to Walmart. Now, I say, if i wanted to got to Panera, I would go to Panera. Now that I think about it, Mocha and Paninis anyone?

Ron Granger

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 9:52 p.m.

I swear I saw Ronald McDonald eating great prepared to order food at Taco King, just around the corner.

Ghost of Tom Joad

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 8:09 p.m.

I'm sorry, but did you just use the words "McDonald's" and "Upscale" in the same headline?

tom swift jr.

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 6:49 p.m.

I really can't imagine the appropriate use of the words "upscale" and "McDonald's" in the same sentence.

Haran Rashes

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 8:01 p.m.

Tom, I can imagine it very easily. Eat too much McDonalds and watch your "scale" go "up."

Urban Sombrero

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

This is nothing more than putting lipstick on a pig. No matter how you try to gussy it up, it's still a pig in the end.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 11:44 p.m.

Unless someone was trying to sell me an actual pig, with actual lipstick on its face, I think this story is one of the best applications of the metaphor I can imagine.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 5:26 p.m.

I hope that with this "remodel" inspires this McDonald's location to work on improving their customer service. I have noticed a decline: orders not correctly filled, being handed a drink at carryout with the drink spilled down the side of the container, fries old and tired, etc. This is a fantastic location. It is convenient for so many - but after having several disappointing experiences, it will take more than a physical immprovement to get me to go back. I drive out to the one on Zeeb now...


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 5:14 p.m.

But they still only get the order right 50% of the time!

Dog Guy

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 11:20 p.m.

The talk behind the counter of this restaurant included so many languages that I referred to it as the Tower of Babel McDonald's. Yes, I was always surprised by what I received.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 5:34 p.m.

More like 100% of the time if you go through the drive-through. We have to go inside for take-out orders just to make sure they get it right. Try working on that first, McDonald's.

dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

"...on West Stadium Boulevard in Ann Arbor " you mean like all the others that have gone through recent rehabs.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

The one on Lohr has seating for about 10 people while 2/3 of the restaurant is taken up by a useless Playland - ridiculous. The new one on State is getting better cleaning, it was always so dirty you had to clean the tables yourself. But they still don't clean the booth walls/ledges or the booth seats, they are disgusting and just caked with grease. This franchise doesn't seem to care about cleanliness or customer service as much as most other locations do.


Thu, Aug 30, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

Yes, just like the article said.