The refreshed McDonald's in Pasadena

This is a shot of the recently redone interior of the McDonald's of Lake Shore in Pasadena. There's a wider shot here.

This is the second time owners Barbara and Bob Houck have hired Steve Appel of Whitehead & Appel Interior Design to help with a redesign. The first, for their Pikesville location, was a complete rebuild from the ground up. This one was more of a cosmetic overhaul.

Houck first became aware of Appel (better known, probably, as the owner of Nouveau Contemporary Goods), from a Baltimore Sun article about his work, which she clipped and set aside.

The Houcks operate two other McDonald's - in Riviera Beach and on Ordnance Road. They used to operate 11 of them, but downsizing, Houck says, allows them to focus their energies better

Appel told me that McDonald's operators have a good deal of autonomy when it comes to design - as long as they work with company-approved vendors for things like seating and flooring, operators have a good deal of leeway with the design. But interior impovements come at the operators' expense, and Barbara Houck admitted that she was on the fence about investing time and money into the Pasadena redesign. The early response, she told me, has been encouraging, and good sales are starting to pay for her investment.

The economy remains uncertain, and deciding whether or not to invest is always a risk. I suppose there's no good answer.

What's your take? Do you notice it when a restaurant keeps itself fresh?


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