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Check out McDonald's new concept, CosMc's

The fast-food giant says plans to open its drive-thru beverage brand in Illinois this month, with nine more in Texas by the end of 2024.
McDonald's plans to open CosMc's in the coming days. | Photo courtesy of McDonald's.

McDonald’s is getting into the drive-thru beverage game.

The Chicago-based fast-food giant on Wednesday revealed more details of its second brand, called CosMc’s. The company plans to open its first unit of the brand as part of a “limited test” in Bolingbrook, Ill., early next week.

But it also plans to open as many as 10 locations of the concept by the end of 2024, with the other nine locations to be opened in Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio,Texas. The brand is named for one of the company’s children’s characters from its commercials in the 1980s and 1990s, an alien called CosMc.

“We asked what would happen if a McDonald’s character that was part alien, part surfer and part robot would open a restaurant in 2023,” CEO Chris Kempczinski told analysts on Wednesday at McDonald’s Investor Day presentation.

He said that the company wanted a piece of the specialty beverage category, a $100 billion business the company doesn’t play in.

Yet the company also felt that adding customizable beverages inside McDonald’s would be too complex for the chain’s franchisees. So, the company started looking at developing a secondary concept. And that concept had to work internationally as well.

“It had to have global appeal,” Kempczinski said. “McDonald’s doesn’t do hobbies well. This won’t work unless it can work across multiple markets.”

The company plans to evaluate those 10 locations over the following year before deciding what to do after that.

Kempczinski also sought to temper some expectations, noting that, “We’re talking about 10 stores, OK? Let’s not get too excited.”

But he said that the company decided just a little more than a year ago to get this off the ground, and in that period McDonald’s was able to develop the brand and get the first location close to opening.

The concept is targeting the rapidly growing market for drive-thru beverages, with a line of customizable beverages that are unique to the brand. It includes specialty lemonades, teas, blended beverages and cold coffee, along with energy drinks such as the Sour Cherry Energy Slush.

Customers can customize these beverages with flavorings, boba or energy shots. Flavors include a Churro Frappe, S’mores Cold Brew and a Blueberry Ginger Boost.

The concept has a limited menu. While there are some favorites from McDonald’s, such as McMuffin sandwiches and the McFlurry, there are several unique items, such as the Creamy Avocado Tomatillo Sandwich and the Spicy Queso Sandwich.

CosMc’s features several drive-thru and pickup lanes. Customers are guided through the ordering process by digital menu boards until they get their food. The brand has cashless payment and also has its own app. The goal is to make the ordering process “easy-going.”

"We're in test," Kempczinski said, "which means we're open to learning all sorts of things."

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