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Two of America's Biggest Fast-Food Chains Have Shortened Their Hours

Customers have been warned the disruptions are likely to go on for weeks.

A surge in the Omicron variant cases is affecting operations at some of your favorite restaurant chains. Both McDonald's and Starbucks have said worker shortages are affecting their hours of operation, with many nationwide locations now open for a shorter period of time during the day.

McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal last week that the burger chain's franchisees can't get their restaurants staffed enough to keep the doors open full-time. As a result, the chain's United States locations now operate at 10% fewer hours than they did before the pandemic.

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"We might be dialing back late night for example from what we would ordinarily be doing," Kempczinski said of the shorter hours on an earnings call in October, adding that the labor shortage is also affecting the chain's speed of service. 

Similarly, Starbucks is warning customers they should expect store closures and ingredients missing from its menus in the coming weeks.

"With the rapid spread of the omicron variant, we've all been forced to adapt again," the company said in an email sent to customers on January 14. "Your Starbucks Experience may look different each time as we navigate this dynamic situation in each of our communities . . . You may notice some stores will have shortened hours, that some products may be unavailable, or that mobile order and pay is temporarily turned off at your store."

The company also noted it would delay the expiration of points customers have earned through the Starbucks Rewards loyalty program until April 1.

Disruptions at Starbucks are hardly news. The chain has been struggling with major ingredient shortages since last year, and a growing sense of frustration from customers and employees thanks to short-staffing. (Not to mention, the frustrating issues with the chain's mobile app.)

Several smaller chains have also adjusted their hours of operation. Chipotle, Shake Shack, and regional favorites like Kura Sushi and Korean fried chicken chain Bonchon, are currently seeing intermittent store closures.

Restaurant sales have again slowed in the second half of December, with brands like Burger King, Shake Shack, and Denny's reporting losses due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

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Mura Dominko
Mura is a Deputy Editor leading ETNT's coverage of America's favorite fast foods and restaurant chains. Read more