McDonald’s went 24/7 in Garner in April, 2005, after a push by corporate headquarters to boost profits by extending store hours. Franchisee Fred Huebner had doubts at first. He doesn’t anymore. By catering to the area’s night owls and early birds on U.S. Highway 70, Huebner, who put on his first McDonald’s uniform almost 35 years ago, figures he has increased his restaurant’s revenue by 4.5%, or $90,000, over a year. “There are so many customers out there all times of the day,” he says. “We have to be out there, too.”
Over the course of an average day, 1,500 people—the equivalent of 1 out of every 16 people in the middle-class suburb of 24,095—drive in to the Garner McDonald’s. The clientele is every bit as diverse as the town’s population. Old-timers joshing with one another over morning coffee. Office workers zipping from the pickup window for breakfast behind the wheel. Repairmen on a midshift break. Mothers taking a breather while their preschoolers scamper in the Play Place. Families ordering dinner in Spanish. And, in caravans, twentysomethings after a night of carousing.