McDonald's Is Doomed

"Would you like arugula with that?" (AP photo)

“Would you like arugula with that?”
(AP photo)

You probably saw the story yesterday that McDonald’s had yet another rough quarter, with sales down globally yet again. I didn’t think it was worth blogging again after reading this part, but please indulge me before we get to the good stuff:

Shares of the fast-food company were up almost 5 percent in early trading. At midday, they remained 3 percent higher at $97.70 as investors shrugged off declines in quarterly earnings and sales.

McDonald’s global sales at restaurants open at least 13 months fell a worse-than-expected 2.3 percent in the first quarter, and the company warned of another drop in April.

Net income tumbled 32.6 percent to $811.5 million, and revenue was down 11 percent at $5.96 billion.

No biggie — Wall Street had already priced in another bad quarter, but maintaining confidence that new CEO Steve Easterbrook is busy working on a turnaround plan.

That was certainly my position (I’m not a shareholder) on the matter. Easterbrook would, I assumed, pare down the menu, maybe improve the beef, and (please! please! please!) put the beef tallow back into their formerly world-class french fries. “Wait and see” seemed to be the prudent thing to do before blogging one more time about McDonald’s.

But I can tell you right now: McDonald’s is almost certainly doomed. Or at the very least, Easterbrook is the wrong guy to head up the burger chain — any burger chain, for that matter.

To understand why I’ve come to this conclusion, read the very next line from the story:

Easterbrook plans to unveil his plan for turning McDonald’s into a “modern, progressive burger company” on May 4.

Now maybe I should withhold judgement until I see this plan next week. Maybe a bold headline like “McDonald’s Is Doomed” is just the kind of baseless clickbait fear-mongering I try to resist indulging in.

But a progressive burger company? Really?

How about a barber shop with shampoo laced with Nair? No, that doesn’t seem like a good idea to you? Let’s talk about it at my bar, where I water down the scotch. No, you’d rather not? Well, that’s how I feel about a “modern, progressive burger company.”

A progressive burger chain is like a quiet rave, a smoke-free poker game, or a free & fair Chicago election.

A burger chain serves up the sandwich version of meat & potatoes — the very antithesis of “progressive” anything. A fast-food burger is supposed to be simple, hearty, wholesome, perhaps-not-entirely-healthy fare designed for families on a budget and on the go.

It’s not wraps. It’s not tofu. It’s not sprouts. It’s a burger and fries, ably prepared from decent ingredients at a price that encourages people to indulge. In short, it’s nothing of which Michelle Obama is ever going to approve — not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Easterbrook is misusing the word “progressive” just as badly as American “progressives” do every time they use it. But I doubt it, at least until Easterbrook’s plan is revealed.

But how “progressive” will his plan turn out to be?

This shouldn’t be rocket math. Progressivism has come to mean top-down, pre-engineered, overpriced, “we know what’s best for you,” nannystatism — which is not what I consider to be a fun meal with the kids.

A fun meal with the kids is decent, fast, inexpensive dining on American food. There’s nothing “progressive” about it. And any attempt to force that square peg into the round hole of our hungry mouths is doomed to failure.

Would it surprise you to learn that Easterbrook is a Brit?

Me, neither.

Meet you at Steak ‘n Shake?