What's hurting McDonald's: The menu or the experience?

So much has been said over the years about McDonald's and its menu. But is the menu really the only thing responsible for the fast food chain's long losing streak?

Americans older than 45 may remember that McDonald's used to spend a lot of effort promoting the actual experience of eating at its restaurants.

Cleanliness was a big focus in many of its TV ads, and the "fun" of just being inside their locations was at least soft-peddled as well.

If you don't think atmosphere matters, look at the explosive growth and success Target began to enjoy 15 years ago when it first truly became a national chain. Many analysts scratched their heads at that success, because they rightfully pointed out that Target really wasn't offering anything newer or better than Walmart when it came to inventory and prices.

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But savvier observers noted that the actual experience of shopping in a Target store set it apart. The lighting was better, those bright red logos opened your eyes—it seemed "cool" to be there!

Walmart seemed dingy by comparison; shopping there still feels a little like you've become a bit downtrodden. And I say that as a PROUD regular Walmart shopper.

Over the last 20 years or so, McDonald's restaurants seem to have taken on that dingy air. Perhaps better lighting, pumped in music, and a complete table remodel is as much the answer as new burgers and salads.

Weigh in, (no pun intended), below!

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