I'll admit it, fast food is fun, at least when it's hot, fresh, and fast. Yet with increasing prices and difficulty in hiring and keeping employees, sometimes it's a no-brainer to go make something at home. It's cheaper, and if the drive-thru line is stretching around the building, it might just be easier and quicker to pop a pizza in the oven or air-fry a frozen chicken patty than sitting in a line.

I will admit, that one of my current favorite fast food lunches is Little Caesars Slices-N-Sticks. I get two lunches out of the deal for under $8 bucks. Another one of my favorites is McDonald's two cheeseburger meals. It's classic, not horribly expensive, and it's usually not something they're going to keep me waiting for.

Oh sure, we have other fast food joints in the area, yet they're not as inexpensive. Plus, many times it seems there are lines. One of the ways I try to battle that is by ordering on the app. Then I'm not messing around with paying at the drive-thru or sitting in a line waiting to order and then waiting some more for the kitchen to catch up.

I'm sure you've had some similar great experiences ordering fast food, and some lousy experiences. Lousy experiences make folks decide to eat at home along with the cost. While fast food chains are trying to figure out how to improve service, lower cost, and staff their stores, fast food is also battling shrinking profit margins and inflation. This is according to an article on Finance Buzz.

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They recently outlined seven fast-food chains that will once again be closing locations, or possibly even going away altogether. In our part of Missouri we have three of the fast-food chains that Finance Buzz mentioned, four if you include Columbia. Here are the chains near us and what Finance Buzz is saying about them:


Hardees Introduces New 1,400 Calorie Hamburger
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Hardee's franchisee Summit Restaurant Holding closed 39 restaurants in 2023, then filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In Sedalia, we lost one of our two Hardee's. The one on the east side is still open. Hopefully, it will stay that way. Finance Buzz wonders if the closures will end Hardee's troubles.

Burger King

Fast Food Giant Burger King
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Three different Burger King franchises filed for bankruptcy last year which led to hundreds of store closures, while other franchises closed unprofitable stores. Burger King is reinvesting in more marketing, and remodeling stores to the tune of $400 million. Just a personal observation, but I hope the chain does a better job of store remodeling because in the past, Burger King's remodeled stores, just don't look like they remodeled them. If that makes any sense.

Steak and Shake

Steak 'n Shake Celebrates 80th Birthday with Guinness World Records Official Attempt
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Steak and Shake has been going through difficult times. In 2018 the chain had 626 locations. Last year 500 locations. Unfortunately, the trend has continued despite increasing sales. The chain almost went bankrupt in 2021 but was bought by an investment group that steered the brand from waiters and waitresses and table service to counter-service and drive-thru service. That overhaul slowed last year with only two restaurants undergoing a conversion. Could that be an indication of problems ahead? Maybe.

That said, our local Steak and Shake franchise in Sedalia seems strong, and the few times I've stopped in, I've been pleased with great service and tasty food. I can't say the same with some of the Iowa locations I've ordered from in the past.

White Castle

Fast Food Restaurant White Castle Celebrates Its 90th Anniversary On Capitol Hill
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The big news from back home in Chicago is the closing of the White Castle across from a popular south-side Chicago high school. I've eaten there. Sad to see it go. I also can't say the service I've experienced at the White Castle in Columbia, Missouri is inspiring to say the least. Long waits, not enough staff, and one time at the end of last summer they were closed at like 4:00 PM.

Their current financial issue isn't so much not having profitable stores, but the fact they got sued for biometric privacy law violations. The chain is facing a judgment for $17 billion for scanning employees' fingerprints without consent. Finance Buzz says media reports speculate a ruling of this magnitude could jeopardize the fast-food joint's future.

One thing's for sure, the fast food landscape in Missouri looks like it will be changing a bit as we move through 2024.

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