Burger King Goes Upscale?

Burger King looks like it’s trying to do the Starbucks thing. The burger chain is remodeling all 12,000 of its restaurants with a look that “includes rotating red flame chandeliers, brilliant TV-screen menus and industrial-inspired corrugated metal and brick walls,” according to an Associated Press article.

The company is trying to set itself apart from McDonald’s and compete with all of the regional chains offering a higher-quality product, the article says. One analyst isn’t convinced that the move will attract new customers, though, saying that perceptions about the Burger King brand are pretty well entrenched.

Financially, Burger King hasn’t fared as well as McDonald’s lately. In its most recent quarter, Burger King posted a 2.4% same-store sales drop. McDonald’s saw a gain of 4.8%.

Do you think a severe remodel can strengthen Burger King’s reputation, or will it always be known as number two in the burger world?

19 Responses to “Burger King Goes Upscale?”

  1. 1 smiley1 October 7, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Haven’t eaten at BK in some time, whereas I visit McDonalds a couple of times a month. BK stores in my area are typically dirty and known for poor service..

    Lipstick on a pig

  2. 2 Tom October 7, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Burger King does not have to remodel. The best way for it to improve its sales is to keep its stores clean.
    It does not matter what part of the world you are in, when you stop at a McDonald’s you know it will be clean and sanitary, which is the first step in healthy eating.

  3. 4 Lew October 7, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Even taking the low end of the remodeling cost estimate, ie. $300,000 per store, that’s $3.6 billion (with a “B”). That’s a lot of burgers! Someone in BK’s corporate marketing department is seeking job security and instead should be focusing on 1)improving the stores’ menu and 2) its competition in the marketplace. Good luck with this one; BK will always be a distant 2nd to In-N-Out Burger, in my mind.

  4. 5 Bob Greenfest October 7, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Selling food for a $1 and they think forcing franchisees to remodel will grow the company. How much money was spent on surveys and consultants to come up with this brilliant idea? It’s no wonder management turns over every year. This is lipstick on a pig! For additional insights see http://www.santospostal.com/documents/WBJ090409.pdf

  5. 6 greendiamond October 8, 2009 at 8:24 am

    Putting a new coat on an old dog is not likely to change the demographic that visits this level of food service or to somehow entice their customer base to spend more money. A better bang for their buck may be customer loyalty coupons.

  6. 7 Nick October 8, 2009 at 8:36 am

    Another brilliant MBA’s idea that ignores the basic fundamentals of the restaurant business. They need some remodels, but not at the high end of the design spectrum…and certainly not if they START without cleaning the stores. What a shameful waste of capital.

  7. 8 Anne E October 8, 2009 at 9:04 am

    BK should focus on its cleanliness as its biggest problem. For taste their burger beats McDonalds but your fear of eating at dirty establishments far out weighs a better burger. The Starbucks combo may bring a new standard as Starbucks leads the pack with great service, exceptional sanitary practices and adapting to market changes. A new world for Burger King?

  8. 9 Chris October 8, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Burger King targets a younger market than McDonald’s or Wendy’s does. I think a remodel that reflects a hipper attitude (like their ads) and a cleaner look is very appropriate.

  9. 10 Dana October 8, 2009 at 10:51 am

    I look for quality and cleanliness in a fast food operation. BK provides neither consistently, and I will always drive an extra few exits to the chain that does.

    Lipstick on a pig is right. Remodelling without upgrading operations won’t do it.

  10. 11 james October 9, 2009 at 8:24 am

    If Sarah can do it so can BK, “Going rogue” is all the fashion it seems!

  11. 12 Bill - Total Team Construction LLC October 9, 2009 at 11:48 am

    I agree with the “lipstick on a pig” comment, but from what I see this is strictly a cosmetic upgrade that will most likely fall in the $50-75k range. Still one heck of a lot of burgers to make up.

    The comments regarding upgrading the store cleanliness are dead on. If Burger King can tie an upgraded cleaning program and employee training with that in with the upgrade, there could be an upside to this remodeling AND rebranding program.

    As a consumer, they need to do something to remain competitive.

    They also need to come up with a better fry product to compete with McDonald’s fries … still our favorite.

  12. 13 Carl Todd October 12, 2009 at 10:04 am

    A healthy choice menu in cleaner store would do more than any fancier fixtures. They are not spend the night restaurants with friends eating from a menu that is too complicated to readily prepare at home. They are a necessary pit stop to quickly supply you with the energy to finish the day.

    Remember what Jack Walsh advocated “Know what business you are in and stick to it and try to be the #1 in that business” Good advise for Burger King.

  13. 14 Ken October 12, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Maybe they should rename the company Burger Queen and serve cloth napkins. Tom has it correct. Work on cleanliness and quality. No one goes there because of the decor.

  14. 15 mary matarazzo October 12, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Does anyone know who does their store designs…..


  15. 16 BWNYC October 14, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    I have to agree that BK is shamefully run down and not clean looking. I like the burgers better. My location at 41st & 5th is a dump and I rarely will go in. They are dirty looking and slow.
    Invest the money in freshining up the stores and hiring better people. That amount of money can also be better used to build customer loyality with coupons or specials.

  16. 17 chloe October 16, 2009 at 8:36 am

    Burger King needs to go back to basics. Clean stores and good customer service needs to be their top priority. Their burgers have always been better than McDonalds, however the experience at their stores and drive thrus leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Instead of unnecessarily spending captial, look at what the problem really is and go from there.

  17. 18 Stonewall J March 10, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Have always preferred BK burgers over McD. BK is usually bigger and more tasty. McD fries always taste stale and burnt. Overall, McD is the number 2 burger!

  1. 1 Magazine Seeks Women, and Other Notes « Commercial Grove Trackback on October 8, 2009 at 7:20 pm

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