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“We have a very Darwinian menu. Whatever sells, we put on the menu; whatever doesn’t sell, we take off,” he says, but “there needs to be a certain level of demand. We don’t do well selling one or two items an hour.”
Surely with a US$4 billion joint marketing budget, McDonald’s and its franchisees can create demand, I suggest. He concedes the point but says plant-based foods are just not mainstream enough, for now at least.
And how about alcohol? Beer features on McDonald’s menus from Germany to South Korea, but not the U.S. “It’s much more complicated here,” he explains, talking me through the tangle of state regulations and his concerns about how lubricated diners might endanger staff.
But say I had brought wine with me, I venture, am I right in thinking that New Jersey’s laws would let us drink it? He concurs that they would, so I push my bucket-sized Coke to one side and pull the bottle from my bag. “I’ll join you,” he gamely agrees.
In the 2014 film Kingsman, Samuel L. Jackson tells Colin Firth that a McDonald’s cheeseburger “goes great with this ’45 Lafite.” The cheapest bottle of that vintage I could find is US$2,999, so I grabbed a 2018 Josh Cellars Cabernet from home instead. I pour it into the two plastic cups I have brought, confirm that it helps the burger go down, and broach a more awkward subject.
Easterbrook recruited Kempczinski away from Kraft in 2015 and the two men became friends as they crafted a strategy that included all-day breakfasts, digital screens to help diners customize orders and deals with the likes of Uber Inc. to deliver to homes.
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