It was a slow lunch hour at the Echo Park McDonalds, which might explain why I had the entire La Mesa Grande all to myself. The Mesa Grande is what some of the workers at the newly remodeled restaurant on Glendale Boulevard call the large communal table that has become a popular spot for groups of friends and families.
The communal tables, an idea imported from the chain’s restaurants in Europe and Australia, have been noticed in newspapers and design reviews as McDonald’s updates its outlets with a more stylish look. In a new McDonalds in Las Vegas, the communal table takes center stage, notes the Las Vegas Journal Review:
“The centerpiece is a large oval communal table crowned by a ring of 14 video screens that will debut McDonald’s Channel, carrying content from the Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and the Science Channel.”
The communal table in Echo Park is a much more modest affair, with 10 bar stools surrounding a coffee-colored tabletop that has already been scratched up pretty badly. Overhead, two glass and stainless steel halogen lamps cast a spotlight on my snack of candied walnuts and fruit (it was too late to order a sausage biscuit, no egg) while Duran Duran’s “Union of the Snake” played on the sound system. Not bad, for a fast-food outlet.
The table has proven popular with customers since the restaurant reopened in October. It seems to be the early morning domain of elderly men sipping coffee before groups of kids and families fill it up at other times of the day. The large surface makes it easy for customers to spread out the Happy Meals and food trays, said one employee.
“It’s more comfortable and has more space” than the booths, said one employee, who did not want to be identified by name. “On weekends, when people bring in their families for breakfast, it’s always busy.”