On my last trip to Chicago I had a chance to checkout a new McDonald’s experience. You’re probably rolling your eyes because “McDonald’s”, right? Despite your initial reactions the brand has been making some amazing changes throughout the organization. These changes are good…. Very good.

This particular McDonald’s, located in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, is a display of aspirations realized. From their DIY kiosks through a reimagined point of sale to the Herman Miller chairs and chic interior space, this McDonald’s challenges everything you think about McDonald’s. Gone are the plastic, synthetic elements. Gone are the beige and brown textiles and overall feel. Now guest get to experience a higher end experience with dark tiles, simple graphic representations of food and brand, comfortable and natural spaceplans.

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Technology is naturally threaded throughout the space reducing the cold/robotic feel it usually brings. Instead, it accentuates the experience allowing for guests to customize how they interact with the brand. Furthermore, team members have a more focused duty: to help the guest. Rather than figuring out ordering and standing behind a counter, team members can move around and elevate the experience thoroughly. Additionally, the team members are encouraged to “wait” on the tables to ensure the guests are having a top notch experience.

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McDonald’s is certainly a brand with the right trajectory. Recently the brand announced they’d be serving up fresh beef (instead of frozen) across the nation by 2018. A bold move considering the issues with time, consistency, and execution. Cooking orders fresh can cause quite the backups with a brand that’s been built for speed. However, consumer demands have quite clearly shifted, and freshness is now cost of entry.

I look forward to seeing McDonald’s continue to push things forward and re-establish itself as the front-runner in innovation and quality.