A decade ago, if you were trapped in a conversation about real estate at a cocktail party, someone would inevitably throw out the well-weathered observation that “McDonald’s isn’t a fast-food restaurant; it’s primarily a real estate company.” Investing in property, they were saying, was bulletproof. If you were to make that assertion these days–after the mortgage crisis tanked housing values, tossed thousands of people out of their homes and shook the economy to its core–you’d likely get a drink tossed in your face.

However, from a franchising perspective, the statement still makes sense. Franchises have always been obsessive about real estate, trying to figure out exactly what locations and layouts drive traffic–something McDonald’s has indeed mastered. Full article.