McDonald's spinoff CosMc's is officially open for business with enthusiastic customers enduring hourslong wait times to get their hands on a custom beverage and snack.
The drive-thru-only, "small-format, beverage-led" concept proved to be so popular during its opening week that local police were enlisted to direct traffic around the pilot store in Bolingbrook, Illinois, about 30 miles from Chicago.
One woman who wrote about her experience said she waited in line for four hours before she got her hands on a Creamy Avocado Tomatillo Sandwich and Citrus and Cream Shake. According to Kristina Buchthal Alkass, the wait was worth it.
"The food was delicious," Alkass told FOX Business. "The wait was worth it — not only for the delicious food, but also because there was so much anticipation around the new concept. I loved seeing the employees decked out in CosMc’s colors, and everyone with whom I interacted seemed happy to share the new menu items."
Customers place their orders at CosMc's, a concept restaurant recently launched by McDonald’s on December 11, 2023 in Bolingbrook, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Alkass is a big fan of McDonald's. She covered the franchise in her former job as senior editor for Restaurants & Institutions magazine and said the grand opening of a new McDonald's concept was a special occasion for her. In a glowing review posted on Facebook, she described CosMc's as "delicious and exciting" and raved about the menu options she tried.
"I ordered a Creamy Avocado Tomatillo Sandwich, a Citrus and Cream Shake, Pretzel Bites with Spicy Queso, and a Popping Pear Slush," Alkass wrote, recounting her visit on December 9.
The Creamy Avocado Tomatillo Sandwich by CosMc's, as seen as purchased by Kristina Buchthal Alkass on December 9, 2023. (Kristina Buchthal Alkass / Fox News)
"In just one bite, I was reminded that McDonald's makes a darn good sandwich. The egg was great, the bacon was thick, the sauce was spicy and creamy without overwhelming the other flavors. The steamy brioche was the MVP."
However, CosMc's is not just McDonald's with a different name and logo. The new brand is best thought of as McDonald's answer to Starbucks — a store that specializes in custom beverages and snacks whereas traditional McDonald's locations serve meals. Alkass said the comparison is fair and lauded CosMc's for having a better price point than the Seattle-based coffee giant.
CosMc's Popping Pear Slush, as seen as purchased by Kristina Buchthal Alkass on December 9, 2023. (Kristina Buchthal Alkass / Fox News)
"The prices are definitely fair. I ordered more than I normally would because I wanted to try multiple items," Alkass told FOX Business.
CosMc's charges $5.99 for its Creamy Avocado Tomatillo Sandwich. The shake Alkass ordered was $3.79, and the Pretzel Bites with Spicy Queso Sauce cost $3.99. Add in a medium-sized Popping Pear Slush for $5.39, and the total for four items came to just under $20. Alkass wrote that the slush matched up favorably against Starbucks' $7 Pink Drink.
"I was surprised at how many items are in the $2 to $4 range. It’s a very good deal to get a custom beverage and a hot snack for less than $10 per person," she said.
Google reviews left by CosMc's patrons concur that the food is good and the prices are right. However, several customers complained about the long wait times and lack of indoor seating. One reviewer advised those planning a visit that the store stopped allowing people in line at 4 p.m. and closes at 8 p.m.
"I wasn't going to wait 4 hours. I'll try again in a few months once the hype dies down," wrote Melissa Tomany.
However, Alkass said the drive-thru-only format worked for her and predicted the service would speed up as the new concept finds its rhythm.
"I’ve been using the McDonald’s app on my phone for ordering for about a year, and it’s made ordering easier and quicker. Especially for weekday breakfast, a drive-thru is the easiest way to pick up food while commuting," she told FOX Business. "CosMc’s website says online ordering will be available soon, and I think that’s when the service speed will really shine."
McDonald's is looking to open about 10 more CosMc's locations in Texas before the end of 2024 as part of its pilot program. Those will be in the Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio areas.
Alkass predicted the new brand will be a national success. "People will absolutely enjoy CosMc’s," she said. "I don’t think its success will be limited by geography. I think kids and adults alike enjoy designing their own beverage, and no one can deny that McDonald’s makes a delicious sandwich. I am curious to see how CosMc’s adapts in downtown areas."
Her final thoughts are what every successful food concept wants to hear. "I live about 45 minutes from CosMc’s, so I plan to go back every time I’m in the Bolingbrook area."
FOX Business' Daniella Genovese and Aislinn Murphy contributed to this report.