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Specialty Coffees A Costly Gamble For Mac Franchisees

At the end of one of the most successful five-year streaks in its history, McDonald's is trying to give itself a second identity: coffee giant. The bold move--which aims to make the burger giant a beverage destination and a rival to Starbucks and other coffee chains--is one of McDonald's riskiest product launches ever.

The franchisee system is squarely behind the coffee rollout, but some worry about the financial commitment as they fret about rising food and labor costs. Franchisees must invest tens of thousands in their restaurants to add a special beverage section to the kitchen. Managers and counter help will have to get used to a new vocabulary, along with a more complex rhythm during the breakfast and lunch rushes.

It's a tall order and comes at a time when McDonald's has shown a hint of weakness. The company's same-store U.S. sales didn't grow in December for the first time in five years, and McDonald's CEO recently noted that a sputtering economy could put a damper on sales growth.



Read the whole story at The Chicago Tribune »

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