The article below describes the move away from the more flamboyant QSR designs. But there's a little more of an inside spin to the story.
The first QSRs had to be easy to locate and identify. There wasn't a McDonald's at every major intersection so diners had to search around a little. It wasn't because of competition. There really wasn't much competition and most of the competition was blocks or miles away. McDonald's just had to stand out from a lot of mundane mid-century real estate.
But as the industry exploded more and more chains used the location of the local McDonald's to site their new stores.
So, today, we have entire districts filled with QSR locations, usually with a McDonald's in the keystone location. The purpose of the McDonald's building has changed. The modern building should be welcoming, comfortable, and a little bit of fun.
The building should say "Come on in, don't go to that Taco Bell next door".
But too often it doesn't say anything.
The original "shoebox" buildings weren't bad looking with awnings, bright colors, and an eyebrow arch. A few trim items created a welcoming feeling.
The next generation has all the charm and warmth of a mausoleum.