York County McDonald's chew on all-day breakfast starting Tuesday


Consumers will no longer need to rush to McDonald's before 10:30 a.m. to get their favorite McMuffin sandwich starting Tuesday, and local franchise owners said they're excited to fulfill the longtime customer request.

"Customers have been asking for this for a long time," said Emmett Patterson, owner of nine McDonald's locations that include three in Hanover and two in Manchester.

The largest fast food chain in the world, McDonald's recently announced it would make its breakfast menu available all day at all of its 14,350 U.S. locations.

York College students Matt Campbell, Soala Idasetima and Keshwar Dowlatram, heading into a McDonald's for lunch on Monday, said they probably wouldn't be ordering breakfast food there, but liked that it was an option.

"I know they've been testing it for a while, and it seems like it'll work out (to) increase their revenues," Dowlatram said, adding that it wouldn't affect his consumer habits. "I'm going to come here anyway; it's cheap food."

Idasetima said he'd prefer McDonald's add waffles to the breakfast menu, but he'd still be more likely to order breakfast food there than at Taco Bell.

What's offered: Hope Hoover-Armstead, owner of locations including those in York City, Dover and Red Lion, said she's been offering certain breakfast items, including hot cakes and oatmeal, all day for the past year.

The biggest difference will be the addition of McMuffin sandwiches, she said. Her stores will use egg cookers to free space on the grills and allow employees to fill lunch and dinner orders at the same time, she said.

Locations nationwide will offer either biscuit or McMuffin sandwiches all day, and the region encompassing York is a McMuffin region, Hoover-Armstead said, adding that about 60 percent of breakfast sales at her locations are McMuffin sandwiches.

She said southern regions are more likely to make the biscuit sandwiches available all day. Other items that will now be offered all day include sausage burritos, fruit-and-yogurt parfaits and hash browns (most locations).

No lunch or dinner items will be sacrificed as a result, Patterson said.

Why now?: The move is part of CEO Steve Easterbrook's effort to revive domestic sales, which are mired in their worst slump in more than a decade, the Associated Press has reported.

A company presentation showed selling breakfast all-day could increase McDonald's sales by as much as 2.5 percent, the AP reports.

Hoover-Armstead, who noted she's seen no drop in sales at her locations, said offering the breakfast sandwiches all day could potentially eat into sales as breakfast items cost less and generate less profit.

"Hopefully, if four customers come in around lunch time, it's only one in that four wants breakfast," she said. "It's expected to increase the amount of people coming in, so it's a slight trade-off."

Mandy Arnold, president of York-based Gavin Advertising, said the move should be a short-term win in terms of sales but could turn into a long-term loss.

"I think there's a certain level of sacredness with (the breakfast menu) only being available during certain hours," Arnold said.

Arnold said the menu change is about McDonald's marketing to its stockholders by trying to drive sales enough to offset recent losses, and adding breakfast all day is cost-effective because the equipment and training were already in place.

"It does nothing to create long-term engagement with their customers," Arnold said, previously stating that lack of engagement was the company's biggest deficiency.

Moving quicker: Chris and Stephen Lesher, owners of locations in the eastern portion of York County and Dillsburg, began offering the all-day breakfast menu at their restaurants last week without advertising the offerings.

They said it's too soon to tell what effect the move will have on sales.

"If we continue to meet customer expectations, sales will grow," Stephen Lesher said. "People just want us to be McDonald's."

Stephen Lesher, who's been working with McDonald's for nearly 30 years, praised the company's quickness in deciding to implement the all-day breakfast menu nationally after beginning testing in San Diego a few months earlier.

He cited new leadership as the driving force.

"This has definitely been the fastest anything has gotten done since I've been here," he said. "(The old leadership) used to test things just to test things."

Shrinking stateside: Earlier this year, McDonald's announced it would be closing more restaurants in the U.S. than opening for the first time in at least four decades. Patterson said he's not worried, though.

"Cities change, demographics change, that's always been the risk of retail, and we've always shut down locations for various reasons," Patterson said. "The difference is we've slowed growth down in the United States and increased growth overseas. I just hope we'll get more growth stateside soon."

Arnold said earlier that McDonald's had saturated the market in the U.S., and the behemoth size of the business makes it difficult to make the changes necessary to keep up with consumer trends.

McDonald's should look at shrinking its organization to a more appropriate size, she said, and prepare its franchisees and stockholders for a path that could mean short-term loss but long-term gain.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com.