Upon exiting Omotesando station this past Friday night, I was somewhat disconcerted to see that the McDonald's, where people-watchers who can't afford to sit on the Anniversaire terrace up the street sit, was gone. On closer inspection however, I discovered that the black no-name sign was in fact the store front for the Quarter Pounder, a new concept for Japan.
A novelty in the fast food world, McDonald's is apparently trying no-brand marketing in introducing its hefty little burgers to this island nation. And they are being all boutique about it too! I hardly recognized the site before me as a McDonald's enterprise (save for the huge picture of a quarter pounder) with its use of a simple black and silver colour palate and something equally new for McDonald's: mood lighting. If for a moment you forgot it was a McDonald's you were looking at, you might mistake it for some kind of futuristic and trendy take-out place with its lack of logos and spiffy bold-font paper bags.
While I waited for my friend to arrive, I got to observe the fascinating comings and goings of this undercover McDonald's. To add to the simplicity, there were only two lines: one for Quarter Pounders and the other for Double Quarter Pounders. They are sold in sets, and that's all the McTique (McDonald's boutique) had on offer. Granted McDonald's has still not sunk to the level that it has in the public eye here, I was amazed at the number of well-dressed people lining up for some meat. The lines actually moved surprisingly fast and there didn't seem to be any wait even close to Krispy Kreme proportions. I'm a bit disappointed that McDonald's didn't change the name of their burger to put it into perspective for the locals, like the 113 Gramer or something along those lines. There were a few brave women who stepped up to the Double line but most of them remained in the Single one. A couple looked curious to try the Double line but defected to the Single line after discovering that the Double line should have been called the "foreigners and men" line. And did said foreigners ever look happy! Who knew 113 grams of meat and a slice of cheese could illicit such emotion!?
I'm not sure how long these McTiques are going to be open for business but there are currently only two in the city. I wouldn't doubt that the Quarter Pounder doesn't make it on the menu permanently, especially when the ladies catch on and realize they are eating 113 and 226 grams o' meat.