For lunch, Denis Weil chills out in the contemporary lounge he created. Reclining in a leather-backed Lipse chair designed by Wolfgang Mezger, he munches a southwestern chicken salad and sips a berry smoothie. The ambiance is foodie chic: hardwood floors, sleek white tables, a wooden-slat ceiling, and tranquil lighting from a low-hanging ceiling lamp.
Weil spritzes a lime over his salad, enjoying the laid-back vibe that lets him focus on the food. “I love this salad, it’s so cravable,” he coos in a slight European accent. Just then, Weil’s colleague Jim Carras strides past, interrupting his reverie. “Hello, Denis, I see you are sitting in the cool section.”
Weil chuckles, because, technically, he is in the cool section. His contemporary lounge sits smack in the middle of a newly revamped McDonald’s in Oak Brook, Illinois. Yes, McDonald’s. Weil, McDonald’s VP of concept and design, has spent the past five years educating Carras (VP of U.S. restaurant development) and a host of other executives and franchisees throughout the $23 billion company that a McDonald’s restaurant doesn’t have to mean primary colors and fiberglass booths.