E.J. Krampe thought his customers deserved a break. And like a lot of other McDonald’s franchisees, he’s been lobbying for that break, free WiFi in his 20 stores, for the past two years. The Krampe family actually began offering the service free in early 2005, but McDonald’s corporate came in with a new system in 2007 that required customers to pay.

“It just didn’t make sense; there’s no reason it can’t be free,” Krampe says. “[So] the operators complained.” And they’ll get their wish beginning Jan. 15 when McDonald’s, hoping to take a bigger bite out of the coffeehouse business than its McCafé’s have already done, launches free WiFi nationwide.

“In January we’ve got a lot of things going on,” Krampe adds. On Jan. 1 McDonald’s of Acadiana will debut its new $1 breakfast menu, and the local operators have already rolled out frappes — frozen coffee drinks in caramel and mocha flavor — at their newly constructed Kaliste Saloom Road store. By the end of January frappes will be sold at all Acadiana locations of McDonald’s.

And there’s more to come: this summer fresh-fruit based smoothies will appear on the menu. “Then we’ll pretty much have our whole beverage strategy laid out,” Krampe says.

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