McDonald’s Is Creating a Spinoff Restaurant—Here’s Everything We Know
Hint: Your favorite McDonald's-craving alien is about to make an epic return
We’re calling it: 2023 is the year of the throwback. It seems every brand is dipping its toes into the nostalgia pool lately. Along with companies like Mattel—which has seen massive success with the Barbie movie and just launched a Polly Pockets and Friends collaboration—fast-food chains are bringing back some of our favorites from the ’80s, ’90s and early aughts. And those famous golden arches are getting in on the action.
After the return of the beloved purple Grimace, McDonald’s has decided to reintroduce another of its former mascots to the fast-food scene—and an entire restaurant concept to go with it. During the company’s recent second-quarter earnings call, executives announced a soon-to-launch new chain, CosMc’s.
We’ve got the scoop on everything you need to know about CosMc’s, including what you can expect from this new fast-food joint.
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What’s the inspiration behind CosMc’s?
@danceswithtoys What’s all this about CosMc? #mcdonalds #cosmc #80sbaby #90skids @McDonald’s #fyp #viral #fun #mascot #mcdonaldland #retro #Inverted ♬ Righteous – Mo Beats
If you weren’t a fast-food lover back in the ’80s and ’90s, here’s some old-school McDonald’s trivia for you: In 1987, a TV commercial introduced the world to CosMc, an alien from outer space who craves McDonald’s food. After appearing in a series of TV spots and print ads—plus an early ’90s M.C. Kids game—he faded into history.
But now the brand is ready to introduce the extraterrestrial to a new audience. The new McDonald’s restaurant concept is named for and dedicated to him.
Why is McDonald’s bringing back CosMc?
CosMc isn’t the only McDonald’s mascot who has recently made a return. Grimace, a lovable purple blob (who—fun fact—actually represents a taste bud), made a reappearance this year. In June, the fast-food chain launched its Grimace Birthday Meal (similar to the Adult Happy Meal), which includes a choice of a 10-piece Chicken McNuggets or a Big Mac, plus fries and a special-edition purple milkshake.
That meal deal—and the milkshake in particular—led to thousands of viral videos (“Grimace shake” currently has 3.3 billion views on TikTok), bizarrely focused on users’ fake deaths from the drink. The morbid take on the cheery purple drink didn’t dent the company’s sales, though. Thanks to the comeback character, the chain saw an 11.7% increase in global sales.
McDonald’s executives are betting on a repeat of that success with the company’s latest throwback. But this time, they’re creating an entirely new restaurant concept around a former mascot.
How is CosMc’s different from the McDonald’s we know and love?
Ralf-Finn Hestoft/Getty Images
Although McDonald’s hasn’t revealed much about CosMc’s, executives included a few minor details about the new restaurant chain in the company’s recent earnings call.
According to CEO Chris Kempczinski, CosMc’s will have “the DNA of McDonald’s but its own unique personality.” He also noted that CosMc’s won’t have as big a dining room as typical McDonald’s locations and will likely follow an express model—meaning it will be focused on carryout and delivery services.
“A big reason that we can now look at [smaller models] is because of the growth that’s happened with the digital and delivery, where you don’t necessarily need the big dining rooms that you needed in our traditional restaurants,” Kempczinski said in the call. “So you’re now able to look at real estate sites that previously would have been sort of off-limits to us; those become opportunities.”
Express options for fast-food restaurants have certainly gained in popularity over the past few years, particularly during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Also known as “ghost kitchens,” these restaurants purely serve customers picking up or ordering delivery—whether it be through a restaurant-specific app (like the one from McDonald’s) or a third-party app like Seamless or Uber Eats.
The ghost-kitchen market is expected to increase to $1 trillion globally by 2030, and chains such as Wendy’s, Five Guys and Wingstop have hopped on the popular business model. While McDonald’s has attempted this in the past with its McExpress locations, the fast-food behemoth is hoping the new twist on the express carryout model—dedicating the restaurant to a beloved mascot—will increase sales in the same way Grimace’s return did.
When will CosMc’s locations open?
As of right now, CosMc’s is set to open in a limited number of locations in early 2024. Where they’ll be geographically—and whether the fast-food chain will plant one of its alien-themed restaurants in Roswell, New Mexico—is still a mystery, as is the time frame for opening. But we’re chomping at the bit to hear more about this new venture.
Until then, we’ll head to our favorite McDonald’s location to order a Grimace shake while we (impatiently) wait for CosMc the alien’s spaceship to take flight.
- PR Newswire: “McDonald’s Reports Second Quarter 2023 Results”
- Restaurant Business: “The Grimace birthday promotion was an even bigger success than McDonald’s expected”
- Restaurant Dive: “What we know about McDonald’s new small-format brand, CosMc”
- Restaurant Dive: “Ghost kitchens could be a $1T global market by 2030, says Euromonitor”