Fast Food 24/7: McDonald’s To Go All Night? Wendy’s Breakfast? It’s Coming.

24/7 McDonald’s are growing in profitability as more Americans eat away from home and at weird hours. McDonald’s has almost reached a saturation point, after all: How many new locations they can open? What’s next? The answer appears to be extending their hours. You can expect to see:

• More 24 hour locations.

• Extended hours at non-24 hour locations.

• Longer breakfast hours. Perhaps breakfast all day.

• McCafes that sell espressos and premium baked goods.

Other chains are getting in on the fun as well. Wendy’s is testing a breakfast menu at 120 stores. Dunkin’ Donuts plans to triple its stores and offer menus that include “breakfast pizza.” The future of fast food depends on longer hours, more menu options, and more breakfast! —MEGHANN MARCO

McDonald’s 24/7 [Business Week]


Edit Your Comment

  1. McGag Me. Would you like some rBGH creamer in your McCoffee or how about some high fructose corn syrup / partially hydrogenated palm oil sweetener?

  2. Blackneto says:

    I work 3rd shift
    we have 3 McD’s in town that are 24/7.
    the only other choice is steak & shake, all locations, Denny’s and IHoP

  3. when i get out of work at 4 in the morning and don’t want to wake up everyone in the house by preparing a meal, a dollar menu comes in really handy. i hate mcdonalds on principle, but anyone who doesn’t think there’s a huge untapped market for odd-hour business is way off.
    don’t be too critical of the low end for expanding- there’s money to be made and the 24-hr farmer’s market doesn’t exist.

  4. thejbs says:

    McCafe??? HOLY F*CKING SH*T. Thats combining everything horrible about Starbucks (almost everything) with everything that is horrible about McDonalds (pretty much everything.) They shoudl be glad that I wasn’t part of THAT focus group.

    If there is any hope for society, fast food companies will soon be compared to the tobacco industry.

    Anyone who hasn’t read ‘Fast Food Nation’ better get a copy.

  5. If McDonalds starts serving Breakfast 24 hours a day, I give myself about 6 months to live.

  6. Jesse McBesse says:

    the only thing better is the 24 hour starbucks in my neck of the woods… mmmmmm!

  7. kerry says:

    I’m with Eric J. If McDonald’s didn’t stop serving breakfast so early I would have died from a heart attack brought on by egg McMuffins and hash browns a long time ago.
    Good thing I moved out of that apartment across the street from a McDonald’s. Thankfully I live nowhere near one anymore. Stupid egg McMuffins. (Or should that be “eggs McMuffin?”)

  8. Avacasso says:

    I see a new market for restaurants

    healthy 24/7’s

    think waffle house, but none of the food.

  9. Spiny Norman says:

    One problem, Avacasso: Vegans and the birkenstock set all go home and sleep at night. Aside from a few healthcare professionals and civil servants, the rest of the deathwatch shift is pretty low-end and mangy.

  10. terrin81 says:

    Mmmmm…more Dunkin Donuts…I haven’t seen one in years…my favorite

  11. hurmpees says:

    Back in the mid to late 80’s they opend McDonald’s #10,000 in my hometown. Can’t imagine where they are now.

  12. B says:

    I believe that McMuffin would be the noun and egg the adjective, so the proper plural would be egg McMuffins.

  13. srah says:

    There’s a combination Wendy’s/Tim Horton’s near where I used to live. They overlap at lunchtime, I think, but I believe the TH closes before the dinner hour and the Wendy’s isn’t open for breakfast. Coming up with space-sharing agreements like this might be better than Wendy’s trying to develop its own breakfast menu from scratch. But I probably say that because I like doughnuts and I hate all McMuffiny forms of breakfast sandwiches.

  14. Brie says:

    I know someone who, if you saw Super Size Me, qualifies as a “heavy user” of McDonald’s. She lives with her father – and depends on him to wake her up every morning so she can be on time for work. She is 39. Her dad is in his 70s.

    What made me laugh was when the dad told me, “She really really likes those McGriddles, but on weekends she can’t get up in time before they stop serving them.”

  15. Asherah says:

    When i get out of work at 4 in the morning and don’t want to wake up everyone in the house by preparing a meal, a dollar menu comes in really handy.

    I know it seems foreign to many folks, but preparing food ahead of your work hours is actually a reasonable alternative. Each and every fast food chain counts on consumer laziness as a key component of their success. It doesn’t take that long to throw together a mixed greens salad (or anything that is bound to be better than fast food) before you go to work…get home and quietly open the refrigerator.

  16. crayonshinobi says:

    I’m also with Eric J and Kerry.

    I’ve never understood why they only serve breakfast during morning hours anyway. It just seems like they are unnecessarily limiting their business. What’s so wrong with serving McGriddles at 11AM?

  17. non-meat-stick says:

    McDonald’s is still vilely disgusting, no matter what time they serve it or what they wrap it up in.

  18. I feel like I should be appalled but the idea of McFood at 3 or 4 a.m., particularly after alcohol, is just way too appealing.

  19. WindowSeat says:

    The problem with serving breakfast past a certain hour is equipment. Once production shifts from breakfast items to lunch the flat top is taken over by burgers and there’s no place for eggs, McGriddles and what have you. In order to extend breakfast the stores will have to purchase more (dedicated) equipment to handle the new menu.

    There’s only so much space in the back of the house and reconfiguring the line can be costly.

  20. VeryFancyBunny says:

    About two years ago, when visiting Sydney, Australia, I went to a McDonald’s with a McCafe. It was actually, well, somewhat swank (Mickey D’s swank, that is. One step above the non-smoking section at a Denny’s attached to a Holiday Inn). The pastries seemed to be on the trans-fatty level of Starbucks’s pastries, and the cappuccino had a decent amount of foam. I think there were paninis. Ronald was nowhere in sight (though I knew that he was lurking around the corner at the regular McDonald’s, which was on the other side of the wall).

    Those of us who live in cities and suburbs may have trouble fathoming a place without Starbucks saturation, but in small towns that currently have McDonald’s but no ‘Bucks, McCafe could easily swoop in and do some decent business.

  21. Youthier says:

    I’m sorry but between the hours of midnight and 4am, my body is only able to process the late night goodness of Taco Bell. E.coli be damned!

  22. synergy says:

    Asherah is my hero! Yes, I agree. Make your food ahead of time. You won’t wake anyone banging pots. At worst you might do some beeping warming up food in the nuker.

  23. Dustbunny says:

    Eggs McMuffins round-the-clock? Yessss! Between that and the newly invented caffeinated donuts, I’ll attain junk food nirvana:

  24. cryrevolution says:

    im with eyebrows on this one. i think my body actually only responds to the crappiest of foods when ive had a little to much alcohol.

    and wendys value menu is by far the best. where else can you get a baked potato with all the fixings for only a buck AND have it be fast food? exaaactly.

  25. SmoovyG says:

    I remember when I worked at Wendy’s back in ’89 and they tried running a breakfast menu for a short while. I wonder what they’re gonna do differently this time to make it succeed.

    And I’m all for Dunkin’ tripling their stores if they open a bunch in Los Angeles. When we moved out here from the east coast, my body just about went into shock once I found out that there was a single Dunkin’ left in the entire state, about a 7 hour drive from where I live.

  26. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    Ahh Smoovy we may not have Dunkin out here but we have the Doughnut Mecca…Krispy Kreme!!!! MMMM Hot Fat and Sugar.

  27. Sure, it’s always the well-intentioned that I prepare meals ahead of time, but some of us don’t have the luxury of doing that all the time. Or when we roll home at 4am and found out the wife/kids/sitter ate your dinner, you’d be a little tired of dicking around. Besides, only the truly lazy use microwaves — I find them unsafe.

    Who wrote that the birkenstock set is all asleep by midnight? they are probably right. But some of us can’t sleep for a variety of reasons and at 4am, we don’t want healthy, we want waffle house and we want it extra greasy.

    Then again, in my town, there is nothing 24 hour except for Hardee’s and McDonalds. But the diners open at 5am, so we usually keep working till 5, fall into the diner, have a meal, go home, shower and get back to the office.

  28. Amry says:

    Here in the land of Wendy’s (Columbus, Ohio), they already serve breakfast. It’s fake fancy sandwiches on focaccia bread and weird hashbrown cheesy things. I pass Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Chick-fil-a, and Tim Horton’s on my way into work each morning and Wendy’s is consistently the one with an empty drive-through lane.

    I’m thinking that says a lot.

  29. “i think my body actually only responds to the crappiest of foods when ive had a little to much alcohol.”

    I know, for reals. Screw all-day breakfast — I need McBurgers at 9 a.m. because when you have a killer hangover and have to go to work, YOU CANNOT WAIT UNTIL 11 FOR THE MCBURGER! It soaks all the hangover right out of your belly.

  30. criticman says:

    Wow. So much for losing weight and eating healthy! Although, I crashed into bed when I got off work this afternoon and JUST woke up at 11:30 PM. My choices locally are Wendy’s, some pizza delivery, WaHo, Krystal, McDonald’s, and Taco Bell. With TB’s food poisoning mishaps and McD’s limited, higher priced late-night menu, I am looking forward to any other options as they pop up. Well, time to go be a fatty and finally eat some dinner!

  31. karmaghost says:

    McDonald’s has almost reached a saturation point, after all: How many new locations they can open?

    Well, I definitely think the new thing that McDonald’s is going is renovating a lot of their stores. They’ve almost finished redoing a local store here in Penn State.

  32. FLConsumer says:

    Working at all hours, I love 24 hr places… just wish there were better options. I don’t mind Steak N Shake, BUT, I wish they still served breakfast at decent hours. Used to be 11:30pm-~11am… Now they’ve cut back to 4:30am-10am. Now the only places I can go for breakfast outside of breakfast hours are IHOP (gross to acceptable depending on the location), Waffle House (slides in, slides right out), Cracker Barrel (expensive but sooo worth it to sit in front of the fireplace on a cold day).

  33. TWinter says:

    The McCafe is actually a great idea. I went to one in Germany last summer and the coffee was pretty good. They aren’t going to put any real cafes out of business, but it’s better than other fast food/gas station coffee offerings. It would be great to have McCafes a source of decent coffee on long car trips.

    And there is a reason the late night folks crave McDonalds – your body reacts to weird sleep patterns by craving fat, salt, and sugar.

  34. HawkWolf says:

    wendys has no breakfast? I used to eat breakfast at the one in the UMich student union all the time. At breakfast time, too. Did I miss something?

  35. Kierst_thara says:

    I consistently have oatmeal for breakfast on work days (~6 years and running), but every once in a while I’ll get a hankering for a Sausage McMuffin combo. I won’t eat anything else at McD’s, and I’m rarely up on the weekends for their breakfast hours, but I guess if they started doing breakfast all day, they might lure me in a little more often.

  36. SuperNoxic says:

    I guess Wendy’s has only had breakfast on college campuses previously because up until now, the only one around here that did was in the University of Texas student union.

  37. OnoSideboard says:

    I feel sorry for the folks who have only fast food burger joints to satiate their post-boozing munchies at 4am. Where I’m from, taquerias stay open 24 hours (or at least until 5am), so after the bars kick you out, you can gorge on fresh, authentic Mexican food. Nothing soaks up tomorrow’s potential hangover better than a ginormous plate of migas with chorizo.

    I did notice a local Wendy’s with banners advertising their new breakfast menu. I’ll give it a try and write a review for a small fee… call me a “freelance” eater.

  38. Mister_Keating says:

    Working at McD’s must be depressing enough, but now to have to be sitting there at 3 in the morning waiting for some drunk arse who wants to stuff his piehole! I feel for those poor slobs working the drive-thru.

  39. Kornkob says:

    *shrug* Wendy’s in this area have had breakfast for as long as I can remember. They are the only fast food joint that sells biscuits and gravy (albeit pretty crappy B&G– reminds me of the army’s SOS). But when I’m on a ‘day after’ belly recovering from an excess of booze, 2 scrambled eggs over Wendy’s B&G is a lifesaver.

  40. HaxRomana says:

    I can’t wait to see how they manage to bastardize espresso. Maybe they’ll make lattes a la McGriddles…using maple syrup instead of coffee syrup.

    Just you wait, coffee aficionados. This is going to be really funny.

  41. Metschick says:

    But the diners open at 5am, so we usually keep working till 5, fall into the diner, have a meal, go home, shower and get back to the office

    Woo, one of the (few) benefits of living in Jersey is the over abundance of 24 hour diners. Wee! After a night of drinking, I like nothing better at 4 am than to eat some fries and a grilled cheese sandwich.

  42. Don Roberto says:

    Whataburger is one of my favorite 24 hour places. For some reason the food there seems better than McDonald’s. I do believe all of whataburger’s locations are open 24/7.