Water appears as a waterfall inside special wall panels at this zen-influenced McDonald's in Hacienda Heights, Calif.
The only familiar signs at the McDonald's in California are the golden arches, the drive-through and the menu. Gone are the plastic furniture, Ronald McDonald and the red and yellow palette that has defined the world's largest hamburger chain. Leather seats, earth tones, bamboo plants and water trickling down glass panels have taken their place.
The makeover elements are meant to help diners achieve happiness and fortune -- whether they realize it or not.
That's because the restaurant was redesigned using the principles of feng shui, the ancient Chinese practice of arranging objects and numbers to promote health, harmony and prosperity.
The concept is an unlikely fit with fast food. But the restaurant's owners say the designs are aimed at creating a soothing setting that will encourage diners to linger over their burgers and fries, and come back again.
The makeover is part of the attempt by McDonald's Corp. in recent years to remodel hundreds of its restaurants to attract more patrons with unique decor and amenities.
It also fits into McDonald's larger corporate practice of catering to local tastes, such as a fondue-style burger in France or a pita-wrapped "McArabia" sandwich in the Middle East.
"We can't look too cookie cutter," Mark Brownstein, one of three owners of the restaurant, said about the new decor.
The basic principles of feng shui include placing strategic representations of five natural elements -- earth, water, fire, metal and wood -- around the room to increase the flow of chi, or energy.
Feng shui (pronounced fung shway) has been employed in the designs of high-rises, banks, even zoo exhibits, and has been popularized by countless coffee table books and TV shows. It's also used in the designs of the Panda Express Chinese food chain.
The McDonald's in this Los Angeles suburb boasts wood ceiling, silver-coated chairs, plus red accents throughout the dining area to symbolize fire and "good luck, laughter and prosperity," said Brenda Clifford, who designed the dining area.
Customers are responding positively, whether or not they recognize the feng shui elements.