Carl's jr.


To shake up the QSR architectural model by incorporating a dynamic building structure as a brand statement.


A last minute invitation to respond to the RFP had ParsonSweet pitted against Michael Graves, Frank Gehry and Ricardo Legorreta. Although an honor to be invited, ParsonSweet was far out of its league in the company of such renowned firms. ParsonSweet had already designed a few prototype trade show concepts for CKE and the conceptual work submitted inspired the invitation. Our approach was, as always, humble and honest. Well versed in experiential marketing we were confident we could deliver on the concept but we submitted our bid with a caveat that we would work in tandem with one of CKE’s regular architectural firms. Much like Gehry works with paper models and scribbles, we would integrate our design workflow with the talents of others to create final engineered drawings, obtain approvals etc.. The proposal was accepted and work began immediately.

The concept was a ground up rethinking of the Carl’s Jr. QSR model. Dubbed the Prototype M (itself branded by ParsonSweet) the new model would take into account all five of a patrons senses. Inspired by “The Disney Way”, we started from the moment the patron leaves their vehicle, aromatic native plantings, lightscapes, covered entry ways, even exterior sound systems were integrated to envelop our guests and set the 

stage for a unique dining experience.

Washrooms were designed hands free (new at the time), we introduced an experimental “communal long table” to maximize single diner seating capacity. Washroom sound systems were specified to loop branded infomercials. Vast sweeping architectural forms combined with large branded exterior architectural features helped increase visibility while respecting signage bylaws. The masses of concrete, plaster and windows were planned to maximize passive solar gains, providing shade during the day and then radiating heat in the evenings to lower heating and A/C costs. The drive thru was wrapped around the dining room with “in curb” up lighting to celebrate the custom car culture of Los Angeles. The drive thru order pylon was canopied to protect drivers from the hot sun or rain. The emotive is fun, stylish and energetic. Even the seating was designed by ParsonSweet and has since been utilized nationwide in several mall food courts, Second Cup, Tim Hortons and Popeye’s.


The most tangible result was measured increased consumer satisfaction. Patrons rated the Prototype M food 27% higher in taste and quality, proving that the experience does increase the foods’ value proposition significantly. The design won several published accolades. The pads ground breaking to opening day spanned only several weeks and it’s unique concrete and plaster integration won the coveted “Golden Trowel” construction award. Scribblers’ Club maintained its relationship with CKE creating a full suite of franchise development tools, advertisements, construction management team apparel and accessories, video and multimedia.