For decades, McDonald's customers have begged the chain to offer its Egg McMuffins, Biscuit sandwiches, and McGriddles all day. Since it launched a full breakfast menu in 1977, McDonald's has ceased breakfast sales at 10:30 a.m. — far too early for most late risers/hungover people. Earlier this year, the burger chain began testing all-day breakfast offerings in select markets. Though operators and franchisees have long complained about the logistics of such an undertaking, McDonald's appears ready to launch all-day breakfast at all of its U.S. units this fall. According to an internal memo obtained by the Wall Street Journal, McDonald's suggested the move to operators and franchisees yesterday.
Drastic times call for drastic measures
McDonald's all-day breakfast trials are coming at a particularly tenuous time for the company. With sales and stocks at a 20-year low, competitors chewing off marketshare from every angle, and growing dissent among its ranks of franchisees and employees, McDonald's needs to pull some rabbits out of hats to maintain its position at the top of America's food chain. And though offering breakfast all day is costly for both the company and its operators, it appears as though these drastic times are calling for equally drastic measures. As the Journal notes, the company has been investing in building out extra kitchen space at the restaurants that have been offering all-day breakfast in Southern California and Nashville, Tenn. It's likely that many more McDonald's locations will need to reconfigure their kitchens in order to serve both McGriddles and Big Macs morning, noon, and night.
LeAnn Richards, a franchisee based in Tucson, Ariz. told the Journal that "franchisees need to be ready for the potential launch of all-day breakfast as soon as October." For its part, McDonald's has not commented on much. Eater has reached out several times in the past few weeks, but has been unable to speak with anyone at the corporation. Earlier this year the company released a blanket statement acknowledging that "[s]erving all-day breakfast is likely the number one request we hear from McDonald's customers." The company confirmed its regional tests, but would neither confirm nor deny an all-day breakfast launch nationwide in October.
Richards also notes that there are several hurdles to cross before all-day breakfast can become official at McDonald's across the country: Franchisee boards need to approve it, kitchens need to be remodeled, a set menu needs to be agreed upon, and staffing needs to be assessed. Richards, in her memo to other franchisees, sounds hopeful though: "We want to make it clear that we are not being presumptive that this will launch, but we want to make sure the system is ready to turn quickly and launch all day breakfast should all of you believe and support that direction."
Though McDonald's franchisees may be upset with the company, it's likely that they've heard their customers' cries for all-day breakfast over the years, and are at the same time feeling the pinch of sluggish sales as their former regulars turn to Chipotle for lunch. The moment is right for all-day breakfast at McDonald's — but will it be enough to curtail the company's downward spiral?