I’m spending a few days in Chicago on business, attending our fall board meeting and retreat. We’re holding it in a very interesting location, on the grounds of Hamburger University. I’m serious – Hamburger University, aka McDonalds World Headquarters. Who knew?
The hotel is a Hyatt, a very normal hotel with nicely appointed rooms and good meeting space. It’s when you look at the artwork on the walls in the hall that you realize something is going on. What looks to be a nice portrait of a mother and daughter has a Happy Meal on the table in front of them; in a peaceful landscape, a small set of golden arches appears in the background. If you look carefully, you can see some little McDonalds touch in almost all of it. It’s a little eerie but it’s a good puzzle to see if you can spot where it is since you know it has to be there somewhere.
You’d think we could get Egg McMuffins for breakfast or at least fries in a little red box with our burger for lunch. But no, it’s regular food on real plates with silverware, not wrapped up in paper. The gift shop has all manner of little tchotchkes with golden arches on them just perfect for gift giving or as souveniers of a trip to this world apart.
Because Hamburger University really is different. The Campus is where McDonalds trains middle managers and franchise owners to be sure the product and restaurants meet consistent standards. I haven’t seen them actually being trained, mind you, but I know that’s what happens at the training facility which is across Lake Fred from the hotel. There are people here from all over the world, not just Illinois, and it’s a bit like being in a storybook.
I love coming here. It’s quiet and restful, nestled in the trees with walking paths and there are geese on Lake Fred (I like the name). It’s very conducive to reflection and doesn’t have the distractions of downtown Chicago and we’ve had a very productive time thus far. I’ll have pictures when I get home.