The Restaurant Apocalypse of 2024 Is a Really Bad Sign

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Author of How to Prep When You’re Broke and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course

Americans love to eat out. But recently, many have reported that even fast food costs too much due to inflation and the demands of higher wages. Hundreds of popular restaurant chains have closed locations this year, which is concerning. You might call it the restaurant apocalypse.

When a meal for one person at McDonald’s costs nearly $20, most folks would rather add that money to their ever-climbing grocery bills. People are choosing not to eat out anymore, and that is a really bad sign for the economy in more ways that one.

The workers are affected, the franchisees are affected, the landlords of the restaurant properties are affected, and then there are all the other bills that don’t get paid because of the initial folks who lost income.

What restaurants are closing?

Recently, you may have heard that Red Lobster has recently closed dozens of locations with more on the chopping block. But that’s not the only place shuttering their shops. They’ve filed for bankruptcy and many blame its ill-fated Ultimate Endless Shrimp promotion as being the straw that broke the lobster’s back.

Fifteen Pizza Hut locations in Indiana closed overnight, due to a financial dispute with one of its largest franchisees. And there could be many more to come.

The dispute centres on millions of dollars in unpaid bills and puts 129 more locations in Illinois, Georgia, South Carolina and Wisconsin at risk of closure. (source)

Applebees has closed more than 300 restaurants in the past year, and another 25-35 locations are due to close this year.

Boston Market used to have hundreds of locations but is now down to only 27 remaining after abrupt bankruptcies.

It’s also the end of an era at Steak ‘N Shake. They’ve dwindled from more than 600 locations to 148 over the past few years.

Other restaurants closing locations include Denny’s, Hardee’s, PDQ, MOD Pizza, TGIFriday’s, Dairy Queen, KFC, Cracker Barrel, Outback Steakhouse, and Arby’s.

Whether you eat at these places or not, the abrupt closures are sending ripples through the economy.

A lot of people are losing their jobs.

The scenario is a lot bigger than not being able to get your favorite junk food fix. When a business closes overnight, all the folks who worked there are very suddenly out of a job. Forbes reports:

Restaurant closures place workers in a precarious situation. Employees immediately lose their source of income and employment benefits, including health insurance. This can create significant financial hardship, especially without severance pay.

If someone is working at a lower-paying job like a fast food restaurant, it’s probably difficult for them to have a hefty emergency fund to weather this storm. Some have complained they were even unable to get their last paychecks from closed locations, leaving them out of money that they had already earned. How does a person making minimum wage come up with the rent money when one of their checks is withheld? When their income stops instantly?

This is an indicator of an economy that has been stretched thin.

We’ve watched thousands of retail stores close over the years. We’ve watched banks closing branches quite suddenly.

Now we’re watching as an American tradition – going out to eat – is beginning to dwindle. We used to go out to dinner for all sorts of reasons: an outing with friends, a date, a celebration for an accomplishment, a weekly event with the family, or something to eat when you have no time to cook.

But with prices going up in every sector, a lot of folks are no longer willing to pay $20-30 per person for a meal – often one that isn’t even very high quality. When you can barely afford groceries, rent, and medical bills, an $8 Big Mac isn’t high on your list of priorities.

Have you seen chain restaurants closing in your area?

I used to eat out with my family once a week or so, but now we hardly ever do. It’s simply too much money that could be used elsewhere.

Have you witnessed any of these restaurant closings where you live? What about other restaurants? Do you eat out as often as you used to? If so, is it due to the prices or the quality?

Let’s discuss it in the comments section.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.

Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand You can find her on FacebookPinterestGabMeWeParlerInstagram, and Twitter.

Picture of Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • Where I live in a rural area of southern Ohio, our restaurants are still busy. We don’t have a lot of chain restaurants so no closures that I have noticed.

  • There have been several restaurants, not chain , family owned for decades, that have closed since plandemic. Our favorite Greek restaurant in Houston ,Theos, closed during height of this mass depopulation agenda. Then a couple authentic Mexican restaurants in my area just recently. The crazy thing is alot of these restaurants closed because they couldn’t find workers, and this was recently like in last few months. The federal blood money that poured in years ago is long gone and spent , so how are people surviving? I have been asking these questions to business owners for past 3 years and they are saying no one wants to work, they are being taxed and regulated to death. I live in Texas, we’re a red state that does not give government assistance too readily, like Chicago or New York. This is just mind boggling to me. We’re not eating out much due to finances, but I was able to take my granddaughters n hubby out for dinner for Father’s day, 4 of us and the bill was over $100, but it was a really nice old family owned restaurant.

    • “alot of these restaurants closed because they couldn’t find workers”
      I feel sorry for people who want to open a restaurant these days. Finding good help is like looking for a unicorn. If I had to open a food eatery, I’d run it like a NY deli. You come up to the counter and pay first. Then a worker brings your food to you. I’d have a simplified menu so I could have an orangutan prepare dishes if someone didn’t show up.
      I’d very likely hire people at least 50+ because so many young people don’t have the most basic customer service skills. They don’t want to work, don’t show up on time, can’t stay off their phones, or act like spoiled children and give food to their friends if they aren’t already robbing you blind. I completely understand why so many places are closing.

    • I’ve been puzzled by the same thing, no one wants to work…so what ARE they doing? Living with Mom and Dad? And up until recently I would read that the plandemic handouts had been spent now so hard times….LOL….they trying to say that money from so long ago was still around and just now running out? Give me a break! Plus many spent the money on luxuries like giant t.v.’s because Joey made it so they didn’t have to pay their rent during that time, couldn’t be evicted. Landlords screwed but who cared about that?

      • I suspect some tenants even faked having COVID since we could not ask to see the proof. And it took 6 plus months of rising the beaucrat to get reimbursed!

    • Hi neighbor it seems south of Houston ( Texas city lamarqe santa fe) is booming lots of new business so there is hope for us Texans. I really think it’s location

    • I have seen the same thing about a year ago in MT. We live r Tal but the next town over had a pretty decent breakfast place for truckers. We went in one day and the sign read they closed permanently. I asked at the gas station what had happened and they said even offering $20 / hour starting wage no one would show up to work.

  • I feel bad for the employees. Restaurants like the ones mentioned in the article used to be places where high school kid got their first job after they learned how to mow lawn, shovel snow and deliver papers. It was where college kids Could work to earn extra fun and food money. It was where a single mom With no skills could get a job and hustle for cash tips to feed and clothe her children. Guess now all those kids better join the military and get a choice mos before they’re drafted into their first job.

    A different time. I never thought I’d live to see such hatred and contempt for working folks.

    Boy, lefties really love women and children, don’t they?

    • Never thought that same hatred I witnessed down here would spread so far. Those guys are a Transnational crime Corporation indeed.

    • You obviously mean women with beards I am sure. They don’t know what real women are just as the new SCOTUS appointee couldn’t define what a woman is. But the regime wants to draft women now also. The country is entering into a world of immense hurt courtesy of leftist ideology.

  • We used to do the same thing – ordered in pizza on Fridays. However, between a breakdown in the delivery (it is dismal and often leaves you with no food) and the increased cost, I can make a whole lot of pizza at home. The same with a burger. As mom used to say “we have food at home.” Now that is my line. It is disgusting and amazing how fast Biden has destroyed this country.

  • Definitely a problem in the larger economy. Since we’ve transitioned to a service economy (over many years) that sector will always get hit hard.
    From a health standpoint this may be a good thing. Restaurant food, though convenient and often tasty, is a primary driver of many health problems. Personal economy can also benefit as home cooked food is cheaper and healthier… and usually tastier.

    • We did for the most part too. We used to go out once or twice a week, but since we started working from home and cooking more at home, it doesn’t make sense to eat out and the food we prepare at home tastes better and is healthier too!

  • Far as I am concerned, the best restaurant in the world is my cousin’s eatin’ spot in my hometown, Carols Homestyle Cooking. Good, home style cooking 5 days a week. Plus, a meat and two is just $7.16 and that includes a drink! A little higher on Sundays, $8.22. The chicken and dressing is to die for, and her desserts are soooooo good! Yes, I constantly wonder how she can stay open with prices that low, but they’ve been doing well for several years now!

  • More than a year ago, a non-chain restaurant at a major state highway intersection near me closed. This is about more than the direct salaries lost, and the other businesses those employees were supporting.
    I have a book with a bright orange cover called “Never Eat Alone.” It got a lot of comments when I took it on Denver busses. The theme of that book is “it’s not What you know, it’s Who you know.” Restauranteurs love to chat with customers, business people classically meet over lunch, and social interaction over food is an important part of every culture and human well-being. It probably even relates to longevity.
    Many other aspects of the economy will be hurt by the reduction in work and social interactions.

  • I don’t live in a typical area, but funny enough in rural Utah we have seen several more restaurants open in the last year. Our little windy mountain roads used to be a quiet lonely drive, now filled with big trucks with huge campers and boats. I agree the city economies are failing… and it seems those who are able to escape are coming here. I would leave too before they instate 15 min cities, but the rural infrastructure is struggling to support so much tourism and is responding by growing dramatically. More than restaurants though is the hundreds of new airbnbs, and the talk of putting in large housing developments in these tiny little towns that are already struggling with limited water supply and infrastructure. It’s getting interesting.

  • No matter what country you are in, this is an indication of looming crisis.
    This is an article from January this year.
    A business emagazine. Here is a translation of the important parts.
    “Restaurant Owners Face Bleak Prospects in 2024

    The Venezuelan Chamber of Restaurants (Canares) has warned that around 70% of these businesses could close in the country during the first four months of the year. In fact, the guild indicated that many establishments are already in technical closure and “surviving” on the financial contributions of their owners.

    Iván Puerta, president of the guild, indicated that this is not a new situation, something similar happened in early 2023. “Many food and beverage businesses are going to close this first quarter and this is because during the last few years the activation of the gastronomic business has been very volatile,” Puerta points out.

    In March 2023, Puerta had indicated that the gastronomic services area had contributed some 15,000 new jobs in the country in a period of nine months, as reported by national media.

    However, the guild leader specified to Banca y Negocios that it is a volatile area and sensitive to current economic conditions.

    He also said that among the causes of the massive closures is a kind of improvisation and lack of knowledge about this type of business when starting up gastronomic projects.

    “Many of these projects have been mounted in a way, let’s say, improvised, without doing market research, without understanding how the business works or how the real operation of a restaurant is,” warned the president of the restaurant guild in Venezuela.”

  • In California, the brain-dead politicians, who have no concept of economics or even of the concept of unintended consequences, decided that minimum wage employees deserve to have a $20/hr minimum wage. That was great for the employee, until the law of unintended consequences kicked in. People decided they weren’t willing to pay the suddenly higher prices that the restaurants imposed to pay for the mandated higher wages. Many of the restaurant owners were forced to close when they determined that the revenue coming in would never cover their costs, and the employees lost their jobs. When the minimum wage law went into effect, the big name restaurant chains in California immediately started closing stores that were operating on the fringes of solvency. The minimum wage law had the effect of throwing thousands of hard-working people out of a job. It only leads more fuel to the fact that the govt ruins everything it touches.

    • Did you notice the Panera Bread got an exemption for the minimum wage hike? Apparently they donated to governor gruesomes’ campaign. The save bread by donating bread.

  • I live in a semi-rural area. Not a lot of restaurants from which to choose, and business is definitely slower.

    Our biggest concern with eating out is the quality of food. At home, we know what is — and isn’t — in our food. Not so much when we are out and about.

    • Since our food supply is so tainted who really wants to go out and eat. I live in the “Boonies” and we really don’t have that great of choices to begin with. Chain restaurants in the closest city have closed; Wendy’s, Arby’s and Taco Bueno (no Bueno – trust me). That has left a few chains (Sonic – Texans love Sonic), Braums, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Dominos, Whataburger (another Texas staple). The Mexican restaurants are doing fine.
      We do cook at home and source our meat locally. We use Azure for most bulk purchases. We have been so busy building our homestead gardening has been on the back burner. Shrinkflation has been out in force on a lot of products we do source locally. Prices, as we all know, have went up over 30%.
      I changed jobs and took a 30% pay cut, but I work remote now which has saved a lot of money on transportation costs and my blood pressure is down 30 pts.
      This is just the beginning of the downward spiral so strap in and buckle up!

  • Our local Fire House Sub closed a few months ago, and the local Popeyes closed earlier in the pandemic.

    I retired in 2017 and had budgeted eating out twice a week, and driving into town three times a week.
    Gas had been $1.90/gal. for premium before the current regime in Washington DC, with a decent lunch or breakfast in a nice blue collar type, sit down restaurant being about $10, including a 20% tip.

    I could manage my little restaurant forays and trips into town easily, until the regime change.

    Now gas is over $4.40/gal. and restaurants are out of the question. I only come into town once every one to two weeks, and occasionally splurge on a small chili at Wendy’s, which is still under $3.

    The area where I live is near a National Park, so it remains to be seen how we are affected. We might get enough seasonal visitors to limp along, or it might be that with the economy doing so badly that tourists won’t be able to come to the area as they used to.

    Thirty years ago we had the timber and lumber milling industries, the railroads, the aluminum plant, agriculture and tourism. A single income could support a family here.

    Now it’s just limited agriculture and tourism, though the medical field has grown somewhat, and they do have some decent paying jobs. The other industries have been regulated out of business.

    Most folks work in tourism, which pays poorly. Lots of retirees have returned to work.

    What used to be seasonal campgrounds now are year- round, as the folks who can’t afford even a studio apartment are living year-round in tiny camping trailers. Last winter we had temps that were -30 degrees F., actual temps, not wind chill. Those camping trailers aren’t really built for that sort of weather.

    If I were a young person, or an older person of limited means and did not own my own home, I would buy an older van, in really good shape, and be prepared to live in it if I lost my job or was priced out of my apartment. And I would look into jobs I could do online, so I would be free to move around.

    There are still places where a person can camp for free, or for a low fee. I watch a YouTube channel called CheapRVliving and they profile a lot of younger and older folks who couldn’t afford even a small apartment anymore, or who had lost their job, and who now live on the road.

    I have no debt and I own my home and have Social Security and a small pension, but I can imagine a scenario where I can’t afford my property taxes anymore, so I am doing some planning on what I would do if I couldn’t afford to stay in my home any longer.

    Guess I veered off topic a bit. I am quite concerned for my country, especially for young families trying to make ends meet and us older folks who had planned carefully, but who didn’t count on our own government seeming to go out if its way to make living a normal life impossible.

    • Val, I would not call that veering off topic, but your observations are just fact of the matter of where some people are in now, like living at a campground. Good to hear what others are seeing.

  • I have been following the “restaurant apocalypse” for awhile now.
    The mandated raising of the minimum wage in CA has been brutal for some restaurant chains, with many closures.
    One of my first jobs was at a Burger King. Then later in casual dinning and even fine dinning. Used to be, in fast food, with exception of middle and upper management, all the workers were high school students. Now, be hard pressed to find someone high school aged.
    A year or so ago, I was trying to make reservations at a upscale restaurant, non-chain, for brunch for a group of us. The online system would not take the reservation. So, I called. A very nice young woman informed me, they could not find enough help to even open for brunch.
    We do not dine out often, but when we do, we support local restaurants. One of our favorite is a farm to fork restaurant. Another is a breakfast and lunch all day greasy spoon, but has really good coffee.
    I did see something rather interesting, the pooling of all tips by the front of the house, then everyone got a equal share, no matter what job they did. It was extremely inefficient. The hostest who sat us, also ran food and did not do a good job of it. One guy seemed to just wonder around, doing things with no real clear purpose and we only saw our waiter three times. This was a very upscale, almost fine dinning restaurant. A few years later, we went back and they had reinstated traditional model which worked much better.

  • Red Lobster’s “issues” are due to the decisions of private equity company that owns it. Sold the real estate under a number of restaurants resulting in the restaurant having to pay rent.
    Steak and Shake has been going down hill for a long time. Its menu selections were bloated and trimmed significantly. A couple of lawsuits cost the company. I sold my stock (thankfully) in the early 2000s. Used to be a family type restaurant – more than Mickey D’s but not Chipotle, Applebee’s etc. You won’t see me in there these days – I may as well go to Mickey D’s. At least you don’t have to order via kiosk (don’t get me started on places that don’t accept cash).
    Face it – too many restaurants in close proximity. Same with Starbucks/Dunkin two doors apart and big box stores too. They end up cannibalizing each other.

    • You clearly have no idea how the food and beverage business works.
      I worked at a restaurant in the French Quarter in New Orleans.
      By your grossly flawed logic, “too many restaurants in close proximity” is forcing each other out of business.
      Prior to Bidenomics and Bidenflation, these restaurants operated in close proximity with each other, profitably.
      Then with Bidenomics and Bidenflation, real issues like labor costs, rent costs, costs of just basic supplies if they were available became an real issue.
      As to your,
      “Starbucks/Dunkin two doors apart”
      comment, the next big town over had a Starbucks open across the street from a Dunkin. Out of curiosity, I went to the Starbucks and order a coffee inside.
      One, I was at first ignored. It was a good four minutes before anyone acknowledge my existence. Despite my manners to be kind as I have been in the food and beverage business, they displayed a degree of contempt as they took my order and when they delivered my order.
      I then sat at a table inside the Starbucks. At first, there was a woman eating some kind of food stuff Starbucks offered. She was talking on her phone. She shortly left.
      Another man came in, ordered a coffee, did not seem to mind being ignored or the contempt, took his coffee, sat down and had a zoom meeting.
      Then, only what I could call a street urchin came in, pulling “its” cart of groceries, ordered a drink. Likely a Biden welfare recipient to afford all those groceries and a $9 coffee.
      A week later, I went to the Dunkin across the street.
      Not only did they have a line for the drive through, but they had people inside. A number of the employees of Dunkin recognized customers, but they talked to them like they were well known to each other. They had real relations with each other. They had real community. They joked with each other. They were kind to each other.
      Not like Starbucks. There, unless you were them, you were scum.

      • You know it talks out it’s ass on subjects it’s got only top three google search info on.

        Shunning and not acknowledging it is how to handle it properly right now.

        It’s kind of like training a dog. Always be alpha. Don’t reward bad behavior. And don’t go to a subordinate unless it’s to deliver a hard and immediate correction.The subordinate always comes to you. Eventually it responds to good, firm, loving training.

      • I surmise when you went into Starbucks you weren’t wearing a dress or had your fingernails painted and weren’t holding a unicorn stuffy? Well there you go

    • Growing number of Americans struggling to make ends meet under Bidenomics
      Monmouth University released a poll Wednesday showing 46% of Americans are “currently struggling to remain where they are financially.”

      That figure is the highest point recorded by this pollster since President Joe Biden took office and far higher than during his predecessor’s term.

      “In polls conducted between 2022 and 2023, this number ranged between 37% and 44%,” Monmouth said in its report. “In prior polls from 2017 to 2021, this sentiment was much lower at 20% to 29%.”

      Must of been all those Americans in close proximity to each other.

  • Yes, Gruesome Newsome has done his best to destroy California; his aunt Pelosi must be so proud.
    In my area-Folsom-we had Noodles & Rubio’s close overnight. The workers came in to locked doors and no final paycheck. A longtime Folsom restaurant has shut its doors, according to a voice recording that plays on the its direct phone line. “Thank you for calling Cliff House,” the recording says. “We are now closed permanently. Thank you for your support.” It was a gorgeous restaurant with incredible river views. An eatery that has been a fixture in El Dorado Hills Town Center for eleven years has announced it is shutting its doors. Aji Japanese Bistro will call it quits by the end of the month, citing economic challenges as the key reason for the decision. Hacienda Real closed in Historic Folsom.
    Most of the restaurants are compiling all of the tips into one pool, then taking out 20% in taxes, and THEN redistributing the money. I always pay tips IN CASH so the server gets what they earned. The Biden Economy is killing everything.

  • I live in eastern KS and have watched numerous restaurants close in the last 4 years. Seems that the plandemic squelched business along with lack of employable staff. We had already seen decreased food/service quality before then, so I decided that poor management was partly to blame as well. Many fast food joints cannot seem to put an order together correctly and that results in us never going back. We are lucky enough to have stable income and can continue our weekly social dining so we mostly opt for locally owned restaurants that still provide quality even with small increases in food costs. We pay with cash now as most are giving a small discount for not using a fee based credit/debit card.

  • Until recently the McD near me had 2 line around the building at 9am when I left for work. Only about a dozen cars every morning now. Same with Lunch time. I saw 4 cars in line at 11:15 the other day. Evening seems a bit busier, but not 2 line around the building anymore.

  • I simply don’t understand how the people are making money to live on if no one wants to work & they can’t find employees. Service is atrocious. It makes me irritated because I’ve been in the service industry since my teens. Not fast food but other areas.

    I know of one MOD pizza that seemed to have some issues in a more affluent area we visit. I think they were forcing their west coast ideology too much in a conservative area by hanging a rainbow flag inside their restaurant & employed otherwise interesting employees. Apparently that didn’t go down well since they are now permanently closed.

  • We all have to be prudent about our finances in this economy. Instead of spending $$ to eat out, I’d rather use the funds to stock up since the future could be even bleaker. I love Daisy’s canning book, and many of my canned meals are my “fast food” for those days I don’t want to see the kitchen.

    I live in crazy southern California, and yes, closures are happening. Not only eateries, but the local mall has a lot of vacancies. Gas has a “5” as the first number.

  • I live in the country in Texas. The few stores pay $16 an hour and close when no one will work. The $11 special is now $16. I could not find any one to replace some windows broken by hail. So I did it myself. I only buy one taco in stead of two. I cook at home. I buy “old” meat at the local butcher. I cook with more onions and rice. I did buy $45 bottle of soya sauce.

  • I gave up mostly on restaurants years ago. I prefer my own cooking. Plus the new tablet pay systems practically require a tip if you dont want them to spit in your food. And the POS systems start at 22%! Used to be 10% if service was minimal, 15% if it was pretty good, and 20% if the service was stellar. And you wouldnt be attacked if service sucked and you left no tip. I know times are tough, but employers should be paying the bulk of thier pay. My food at home is generally better than most places. If you cant cook, buy a cookbook! It isnt rocket science.

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