McDonald’s offers some of the best comfort food.
It has hot and cheesy burgers, delicious salty fries, and sweet shakes.
All the food is also affordable.
When it’s late at night and you’re craving comfort food, then your first thought might be to go to McDonald’s.
Here’s what you need to know about how late McDonald’s is open and when it closes.
What Time Does McDonald’s Close?
McDonald’s typically closes at 11 PM or midnight.
The exception is if the McDonald’s in question offers 24-hour service.
In this case, McDonald’s does not close.
It’s open around the clock.
If the McDonald’s does close, however, or it doesn’t state that it’s open 24 hours, then you can expect the restaurant to close by 11 PM or midnight.
There are a few other exceptions, of course.
Some local McDonald’s stores might close earlier.
Those hours can also change according to holidays.
For example, sometimes they might close earlier or stay open later on certain holidays.
It all has to do with how busy the store usually is and its location.
In most cases, however, McDonald’s closes either at 11 PM or midnight or stays open 24 hours.
Why Doesn’t Every McDonald’s Operate For 24 Hours?
Sometimes you’ll pass a McDonald’s that’s open 24 hours.
Other times, you’ll find that your local McDonald’s isn’t open 24 hours.
You may wonder why McDonald’s doesn’t just keep every one of its stores open for 24 hours.
It might help alleviate some of the confusion regarding which stores are and aren’t open all night.
There are a few reasons why not all McDonald’s stores are open 24 hours.
Here are some of the reasons why McDonald’s stores aren’t all open for 24 hours.
1. Little Business At Night
Some McDonald’s stores don’t get a lot of business at night.
Most people tend to stop by for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Since most people work daytime jobs, they also sleep at night.
The people who are most likely to go to McDonald’s late at night are those who are in night school, in college, or who work the graveyard shift.
They might also just be night owls.
Since there tend to be smaller numbers of night owls and graveyard shifters, it doesn’t always make sense to have McDonald’s open for 24 hours.
McDonald’s loses money when it’s not serving customers.
The company has to pay its employees if they’re working at night.
According to some state laws, they must pay them even higher wages if they’re working at night.
If they’re not recouping those losses through customer orders, then they’re losing money.
They also have to pay utilities.
Workers need the lights on at night to see what they’re doing.
They need water, too.
If the restaurant isn’t taking any orders, then the company is paying for electricity needlessly.
The amount of traffic that the restaurant sees at night is one of the biggest reasons that not all McDonald’s restaurants are open 24 hours.
A McDonald’s that has consistent service throughout the night is likely going to remain open for 24 hours.
2. Not Busy On Weeknights
You may find that your McDonald’s was once open for 24 hours, but the hours have since changed.
One reason this might be the case is that the restaurant was busy on weekend nights, but it wasn’t busy during weeknights.
There are more weeknights than weekend nights.
Even if McDonald’s is making a good amount of money on weekend nights, they’re still going to ultimately be losing money by staying open on weeknights.
The problem is that McDonald’s can’t be open 24 hours only some of the time.
They have to choose to either be open for 24 hours or to close at night.
They can’t only be open for 24 hours on the weekend because it may confuse customers.
Confused customers aren’t happy customers.
Since the fast-food industry is pretty competitive, the last thing McDonald’s wants to do is make customers unhappy and drive them into the arms of their competitors.
As such, McDonald’s will often see how the restaurant performs during the night on weekdays and weekends.
If they get a good amount of business on both, then the restaurant will likely stay open for 24 hours.
However, if the restaurant fails to pull in customers on weeknights, then it will likely close the restaurant at night.
It doesn’t make financial sense to stay open all the time if the bulk of overnight business occurs on weekends.
The location of the McDonald’s restaurant also impacts the decision on whether it becomes a 24-hour restaurant or not.
If the McDonald’s restaurant is in a rural location that sees little traffic as it is, then it probably won’t be open for 24 hours.
However, if the restaurant is right in the middle of a metro area, then it will probably be open for 24 hours.
That’s because, in a metro area, there are always people awake at all hours of the day and night.
Those people need to eat.
If they’re craving comfort food, then they’re probably going to head to McDonald’s.
Another aspect to consider is how close one McDonald’s restaurant is to another restaurant.
For example, if there are several McDonald’s restaurants close to each other, then one might be open for 24 hours while the others aren’t.
That’s because the company likely thinks that they have enough restaurants in one area that only one needs to stay open for 24 hours.
The one that’s chosen is usually the one that reports the highest traffic numbers.
That’s why you might come across one McDonald’s that isn’t open while another restaurant that is one or two miles away is open.
Finally, McDonald’s restaurants that are located along major highways are also often open 24 hours.
That’s because they rely on a lot of commuter and semi-truck traffic at night.
When on the road, people need to stop and eat.
If McDonald’s isn’t open, then the company is missing out on making money.
That’s why you’ll often see McDonald’s restaurants that are on the highway offering 24-hour service.
4. Market Saturation
Another reason some McDonald’s restaurants are open for 24 hours while others aren’t is market saturation.
For a while, the main method that McDonald’s was using to grow its business was to build more locations.
However, that strategy started failing once most areas already had a McDonald’s in them.
Instead, new McDonald’s stores ended up stealing customers from existing locations.
The company wasn’t seeing exponential growth.
They realized that they needed to extend their hours instead of having more restaurants in certain areas.
Having extended hours meant that each restaurant was able to serve customers throughout the day.
This was a better plan than having more restaurant locations in the same area poaching customers from each other.
Instead of three failing restaurants, they’d have one or two very successful restaurants with longer hours.
This also helped with the changing habits of people.
More people are out at night than in the past.
Some of this has to do with work and some of it is social.
Teenagers and college students enjoy the ease of driving somewhere convenient for a quick meal or an easy hangout spot.
With people staying out and up longer, offering longer hours at McDonald’s ensures that they’re able to serve those customers.
If they weren’t open, then they’d miss out on business.
By minding market saturation and simply extending their hours, McDonald’s can bring in more money.
5. Late-Night Workers
A final factor that can determine whether McDonald’s is open or closed at night is the number of late-night workers in the area.
Certain industries and jobs have graveyard shifts.
Warehouses, factories, and large retail buildings are some examples.
They need people to stock the warehouse, work in the factory, or stock and clean the store at night.
For warehouses and factories, late-night shifts make things more efficient and allow companies to do more business.
For retail, late-night shifts allow the store to replenish its shelves and be clean for its customers in the morning.
These workers usually need to eat.
They might have some breakfast during the shift break, or they might get food after their shift is over.
If there’s a large number of warehouses, factories, or retail stores in the area, then McDonald’s knows it can attract them to their restaurant.
They’re likely to eat at McDonald’s because the food is cheap, it’s fast, and it’s on the way home.
This might not be the case if there aren’t a lot of warehouses, factories, or big retailers in the area.
Since there aren’t that many people working the graveyard shift, there are fewer people out at night.
That means it’s less likely that McDonald’s is going to make money.
As such, they may opt not to stay open for 24 hours.
Is A 24-Hour McDonald’s Really Open For 24 Hours?
A problem that some customers have the misfortune of encountering is when they want to order from a McDonald’s which is supposedly still open.
However, when they go to put in their order, they find that they’re not cooking food just yet or that the dining room isn’t open.
This can be a frustrating experience since the customer expects the restaurant to be open since it’s advertised as open for 24 hours.
If you run into this situation, then you may wonder why McDonald’s isn’t always open 24 hours.
Here are a few reasons why McDonald’s isn’t always open 24 hours.
McDonald’s can’t serve anyone food if they don’t have food to serve.
A vital part of any business is stocking.
Because it’s a restaurant, McDonald’s gets its stock from a truck.
The workers then have to unload the food and put it in its appropriate places.
This can sometimes take a bit of time depending on how much food they take in.
While they’re doing that, they may not be able to man the stove, drive-thru, or counter.
There’s a skeleton crew that runs McDonald’s at night in most cases.
Because there are only so many workers, they’re unable to cook food while also stocking it.
Since they’re open 24 hours, they don’t always get the chance to stock during the day.
Lunch and dinner are usually some of the busiest times for the store.
Unlike other McDonald’s restaurants that close, they don’t have a set time when they can stock the store.
McDonald’s restaurants that close can use their off-hours to stock the store and ensure it’s ready for the next day.
Sometimes you might have the bad luck of trying to order from McDonald’s when they’re doing their stocking.
Because of that, the store might not technically be open even though it’s open for 24 hours.
Another major part of running a McDonald’s restaurant is cleaning.
McDonald’s tries to take its cleaning seriously.
If there are health concerns, then it could spell disaster for the store.
The bad reputation that it gains might put it out of business.
That’s why the company expects its restaurants to be as clean as possible.
You might find that when you try to order at a McDonald’s that you can’t because they’re cleaning.
There’s a lot to clean in a McDonald’s restaurant.
They have to clean the floor, the tables, the chairs, and then all of the cooking equipment in the back.
They also have to keep the bathrooms clean.
Their cleaning also extends outside to the parking lot.
Since there are only so many workers in the restaurant, it can take a long time to clean the restaurant to the standards required of a food-service facility.
You might happen to show up while they’re cleaning.
They’re not always able to clean as much as they need to during the day.
Because of how busy the restaurant is, its main focus is on getting orders out.
Now and then, they might be able to sweep up the floor or replenish toilet paper, but the bulk of cleaning happens at night.
A restaurant that closes can do this during their off-hours.
It doesn’t impact their operational hours.
Since a McDonald’s that’s open for 24 hours doesn’t technically close, the workers must find time to clean sometime during their shift and when things are less busy.
That usually means at night.
When cleaning, the workers can’t always take orders because they’re making sure that the restaurant stays sanitary.
3. Maintenance And Store Operations
A final reason why your McDonald’s store that’s open for 24 hours isn’t actually open has to do with maintenance and standard store operations.
Nighttime is really the only time that a McDonald’s store has to maintain equipment.
If they need to switch out tables and chairs for new ones or fix a stove, then nighttime is when it happens.
They can’t take orders as easily because they’re busy making sure the restaurant is safe.
The manager also has to count money and ensure that each register has enough bills and change to accommodate the lunch and dinner rush.
They might need to sometimes pause on taking orders to get the finances handled.
If you arrive during this time, then they might not be able to help you.
Since they can’t do these things during off-hours, they have to do them at night when things are a bit quieter.
McDonald’s restaurants tend to close either at 11 PM or midnight or stay open 24 hours.
However, you might find that some McDonald’s restaurants that are open 24 hours don’t always take orders during certain times of the night.
Above are some of the reasons why McDonald’s stores are sometimes only partially open for 24 hours.