With an oversaturated market for Big Macs in Germany and increasing competition from Burger King, McDonalds wants to secure growth in the country by opening a new pizza restaurant chain.
Donatos, which has more than 200 franchises across the United States, will do battle in a German market currently dominated by Pizza Hut, which boasts 80 restaurants and 12,600 employees.
Up to 200 restaurants planned
The first restaurant is slated to open between the middle and end of October in Munich. A second store is planned for Frankfurt before the end of the year, and the company is planning to open as many as 200 stores within three years if the concept proves successful during a pilot run.
Donatos will serve its trademark crustless pizzas as well as heated submarine sandwiches. Each restaurant will also include walkup counters, drive thrus and delivery service.
The move represents two firsts for the hamburger giant: It's the first time it has opened up a restaurant that doesn't carry the McDonald's brand in Germany, and it is the first time it has tested the Donatos pizza concept abroad.
A Happy Meal-free environment
But a few words of warning: You may be disappointed if you visit a Donatos looking for Ronald McDonald, Golden Arches, Happy Meals or any of the other familiar hallmarks of Germany's 1,152 McDonald's restaurants.
"With Donatos, we want to create an entirely new market that doesn't show any relationship to the traditional McDonalds market," a company spokesman told reporters.
The company is seeking to diversify its offerings in Germany and Europe in the wake of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and other food scares that have turned customers away from fast food in recent years. Last year, McDonald's profits in Germany fell for the first time in 30 years.
McDonald's first acquired the Cleveland, Ohio, based chain from founder Jim Grote in 1999. The company took a chain of 143 and expanded it to more than 202 Donatos outposts across the country.
The company has also said is also considering bringing other non-McDonald's chains to Germany. In the United States, the company operates the British-based sandwich chain Pret-A-Manger, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Boston Market.