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Now it seems a bit silly that in 1989, when this article was published, I was embarrassed to be associated with the suggestion that McDonald's food might actually be healthy. I was so embarrassed that I used a pseudonym when this piece was published. Most fast-food places these days offer healthy alternatives, but they still sell their killer junk food and will as long as people buy it. It's the American way! In reality, McDonald's turned out to be a better alternative than the coffee and donuts that had been the mainstay of the hospital's coffee shop for many years. And, oh yeah. The reason the story was assigned was because McDonald's promised to buy major ad space if our little magazine would give editorial space to their new restaurant. . . . It's the American way.

A NEW MARKET FOR McDONALD'S,
A COFFEE SHOP SOLUTION FOR A HOSPITAL

by Anne Hutchins aka Janice Stensrude
published in Uptown Express April 1989

The new McDonald's in Texas Children's Hospital (yes, I said in) is the first McDonald's within a hospital in the state of Texas. Five other major cities have preceded Houston in this novel approach to hospital coffee shops.

Long active in the children's hospital scene with their support of the Ronald McDonald Houses for the families of critically ill children. McDonald's is now expanding their market into the hospitals themselves, fulfilling a need for quick snack and coffee service for doctors, hospital visitors and hospital staff.

A hospital seems an odd place for an American fast food operation. After all, the new health consciousness is telling us that we should be avoiding such fare. The fast food vendors are listening to the same messages, however, and the major chains, with McDonald's in the lead, are making menu changes to accommodate the changing tastes of its customers. McDonald's presence in the hospital has actually improved the coffee and donut menu of the typical hospital coffee shop.

The old burgers and fries are still available, but the healthier alternatives are there, too. Salads have been added to the menu and, at the hospital's request, soup is also included, in keeping with its hospital setting. McDonald's makes booklets available that contain nutritional information for all menu items—including a diabetic exchange list enabling diabetics to work out their choices.

The new restaurant is located in the space previously occupied by the Coffee Shop which was operated for 34 years by the Auxiliary to Texas Children's Hospital, and a portion of the proceeds will be returned to the Auxiliary.

With a seating capacity of over 100, the new restaurant employs about 110 people, keeping appropriate hospital hours, 6:30 a.m. until 3:00 a.m. seven days a week.

The restaurant's operators report that the interior was totally customized for the Texas Children's Hospital location, with custom seating design, light woods, a mauve color scheme and chrome and brass accents. The art work was selected by the hospital's Auxiliary, working with a $3,000 budget from McDonald's.

If you are one of the millions who are not particularly fond of hospital food (and the tendency for it to be a bit pricey), you will most likely find the new McDonald's in Texas Children's Hospital to be a welcome new addition to the Texas Medical Center.

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