June 19, 2024

Cars wait in the four-lane drive-thru of the first CosMc’s in Illinois.

Cars wait in the four-lane drive-thru of the first CosMc’s in Illinois.
Image: Eric Cox (Reuters)

CosMc’s, the new space-themed spinoff from McDonald’s, opened its first location on Dec. 8 in a suburb of Chicago. The drive-thru-only concept offers a Starbucks-meets-Sonic menu, featuring fruity and coffee-flavored slushes and drinks.

The next 10 CosMc’s are set to open in Texas, in both the Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio metro areas, by the end of 2024, a McDonald’s spokesperson told Quartz.

CosMc’s is just one of many ways McDonald’s is looking to expand beyond its current 13,000 US locations. The burger chain said last week that it plans to open 10,000 new restaurants in total over the next four years, mostly abroad.

McDonald’s said its new CosMc’s restaurants are just a pilot test. The company did not respond to Quartz’s questions about whether it plans to expand the new brand beyond Texas and Illinois.

Specialty drinks and coffees represent a $100 billion market that McDonald’s had yet to tap, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski told investors in a presentation on Dec. 6.

Menu items

🍹 Some fruity drinks and slushes

  • Sour Cherry Energy Burst (comes with boba): $5.89
  • Berry Hibiscus Sour-Ade: $5.39
  • Pomegranate Hibiscus Slush: $5.39

☕️ Coffee-flavored

  • Chai Frappé Burst: $5.89
  • Churro Frappé: $5.79

🥨 Snacks

  • Spicy Queso Sandwich: $4.99
  • Pretzel bites: $3.99
  • McPops (aka donuts): $3.79

Mixed reviews

Kempczinski said last week that the inspiration for the CosMc’s brand was a quirky question the company’s leadership team asked themselves: “What would happen if a McDonald’s character from the 1980s that was part alien, part surfer, part robot … were to open a restaurant in 2023?”

A fun idea courting the past and future, sure—but customers and critics in the present have mixed reviews. A review in The Guardian called CosMc’s Galactic Booster drink “boring sugary water that claimed it was green tea” and described the Churro Frappé as “so intensely bitter and strong that I could feel it in my nostrils.”

Social media users gave more positive reviews of the restaurant. One Reddit user hailed the Pomegranate Hibiscus slush and the McPops “delicious,” but complained that she waited in line for four and a half hours for her order. Other reviewers also spoke of long wait times, which started at about 30 minutes.

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