The first half of the decade wasn’t kind to McDonald’s. Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation was flying off the shelves; Morgan Spurlock was documenting himself getting sick from its food; and the fast-food chain was fighting off lawsuits from people who claimed its food had made them obese. To top it off, a shortage of well-trained staff caused by McDonald’s rapid expansion strategy—it was opening up to 2,000 new restaurants a year—was leaving its existing outlets in increasingly dire shape. But, somehow, the burger chain survived it all. And now, in the midst of the worst economic crisis in decades, McDonald’s is thriving. The return of the penny-pinching customer has something to do with McDonald’s recent success, but it’s only part of the story. The chain has also re-focused its efforts on drawing clients back to existing restaurants by making them more attractive and improving the quality of its food.