Fast Food Chains That Are Shutting Down Stores In 2024

The restaurant industry can come with a lot of financial instability, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, when formerly successful businesses all over the country were shutting down due to a loss of profit. Most of the COVID restrictions required restaurants to switch to takeout only, which was easy for fast food chains to do, given that most have drive-throughs or mobile ordering systems that allow a no-contact ordering process. But many fast food chains have experienced a decline in staffers and an increase in food supply prices, leading to even the largest of franchises having to close some stores.


Five months into 2024, national chains like Red Lobster, Chili's, and Outback Steakhouse are closing locations across the country to account for profit losses within their businesses. This downward trend is creeping into the fast food industry, too, an industry known for cost-effective, accessible food and beloved by many. In fact, about 65% of people consume fast food at least once a week. This group might be saddened to know that many of these fast food franchises are closing locations in 2024, although some are also opening new locations to balance out their losses. This article will break down the 15 fast food franchises that have closed or will be closing locations in 2024.


Hardee's has fast food chain locations in 32 of 50 states, but three states have fewer Hardee's locations in 2024. Storefronts in Tennessee, Missouri, and Illinois have been shut down this year. The closures were sparked by the brand's bankruptcy troubles, which previously sparked a slew of franchise shutdowns in Georgia, Montana, South Carolina, and other states in 2023, when Summit Restaurant Holdings declared bankruptcy. Summit Restaurant Holdings operates more than 100 Hardee's locations in eight states.


The Spring Hill, Tennessee, location shut down just nine years after its original opening, and Illinois saw the most location closures of the three states, with stores shutting down in Springfield, Carterville, Chatham, and others. The director of corporate communication at CKE Restaurants — Hardee's parent company — has said that the decision to shut these locations down did not come lightly. There are still neighboring Hardee's operating within these states, but many states have seen significant closures that make it inconvenient to find an accessible Hardee's.


While there are many fast food chains in the business that serve fried chicken and french fries, no establishment does it with as endearing a name as PDQ — or People Dedicate to Quality. The brand claims to be focused on delivering speed and convenience with the added plus of a value meal, as well as serving the local community. Unfortunately, some communities in North and South Carolina will be without a PDQ in 2024, with the chain closing eight locations across those states.


Citing "market conditions" in a CBS 17 news story, the company is closing locations in Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Wake Forest, Winston-Salem, Hickory, Greenville, and Columbia. The latter two are based in South Carolina, leaving six North Carolina locations to shut down. This leaves the brand with locations remaining in just four states: Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, and New York. A significant majority of the locations are based in Florida, which has 52 of the 59 PDQ storefronts.


Bojangles shocked many of its consumers this year, when news came to light that the company had shut down five locations late in 2023 and early 2024. The Carolina-based brand shut down all of its locations in Maryland. At the same time, the franchise is currently under investigation as a result of alleged theft and fraud conducted by the franchise owners of the Maryland-based Bojangles locations. While it is unclear if the closures are related to the allegations, the locations have not shut down without sparking a dialogue within the community.


Per the Baltimore Watchdog, many residents have said the Maryland locations were operating with poor service near their end, and some employees have come out and expressed struggles obtaining their paychecks. The company's website still claims to have approximately 800 restaurants across 17 states, although the Maryland locations have not yet been removed. Anyone located in Maryland can find Bojangles locations in neighboring states, including Pennsylvania and Virginia.


In 2023, Popeyes became the number two ranked chicken chain in the United States, following Chick-fil-A and overtaking KFC, according to reporting from CNBC. This change came four years after the release of the Popeyes chicken sandwich, which sparked an industry-wide battle between Popeyes and various fast food chains that were competing for bragging rights to the best chicken sandwich. Despite this spark in popularity, RRG Inc., a Popeyes franchisee located in Georgia, filed for bankruptcy in 2024, noting that it planned to close three Popeyes locations that are costing more money than is being made. 


Many of the 17 Popeyes locations operated by RRG Inc. are in Georgia and Florida; while the exact locations of the closing stores have yet to be released, chances are we'll likely see the restaurant closures occur somewhere in these two states. Despite these closures, the brand still claims to have 2,700 franchise restaurants in North America, so there is likely still a Popeyes near you.

Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen marked the end of an era in Minnesota this year, closing a location in New Ulm that had been open for 70 years. The franchise location served its last blizzard in March, and it was a sad goodbye for the employees and regulars alike who had grown to be as close as family. The closure seems to come as a result of short staffing. Local reporting by The Journal says there were only five people working at the location before it finally shut down.


The closure of the New Ulm location comes after an abrupt closure of a Wisconsin Dairy Queen location in 2023. The Cedarburg location was closed with a notification via the location's Facebook page, just three years after the same location had hosted a grand reopening with a remodel that even featured an event room for parties. Other Dairy Queen locations have closed in Batesville, Indiana and San Antonio, Texas, the latter of which had been around for 45 years.


In terms of sales, KFC is a top 15 fast food chains, andin March 2024, the chain surpassed 30,000 restaurant locations worldwide, according to its website. Although small in comparison, the chain has closed at least four stores already in 2024, including stores in Poughkeepsie, New York as well as Chatham, Bronzeville, and Greater Grand Crossing, all in Chicago. Interestingly, Block Club Chicago reports that the Chatham location had been under stop-and-go renovations for a few months prior to the shutdown.


Chatham, Bronzeville, and Great Grand Crossing — all based in Chicago's South Side — were owned by the same franchisee. All three Chicago locations closed in February, as did the KFC location in Poughkeepsie. In New York, the reason seems to be due to unsafe conditions in the building the KFC was housed in, as a bright red sign on the door noted that the town of Poughkeepsie prohibited use and occupancy of the building. Luckily, fans of KFC's fried chicken can still visit neighboring locations in Chicago and the Hudson Valley.

Papa John's

Patrons of Papa John's in the United Kingdom will experience quite the loss this year, as 43 locations of the popular pizza chain are closing down. The cost of keeping these locations open was far outweighing the profit, as the storefronts were deemed underperforming by the franchise owners. Closing locations are found in towns like Barnsley, Lancaster, Liverpool, Southport, Wimbledon, and many more.


The chain, which formerly featured Shaquille O'Neal on its board of directors, was said to be focusing in on expanding internationally in 2023, with plans to grow the brand in India with the help of PJP Investments Group. The company still has stores in 43 countries, including in Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East. Additionally, Papa John's remains a prominent pizza chain in the UK, with more than 400 store locations remaining, according to the company's website. There are no whisperings of closures coming to any United States locations.


Known most colloquially for their iconic commercial slogan "We have the meats," Arby's is a fast food sandwich chain known for its roast beef, turkey, and Angus beef sandwiches. Despite a 63% popularity rate on YouGov, the brand shut down a location in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, in March of this year. It's unclear why the location closed down, but the abrupt closure isn't unique to this location. In 2023, Arby's closed down a storefront in Santa Maria, California, that had been open for more than three decades.


Even further, the chain shut down six other locations in 2014, all in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania, so the 2024 closures are not the first time the area has been shocked by an Arby's closure. The sandwich chain still has 3,403 locations in the United States, according to its website, including 140 in Pennsylvania and 83 in California. The fast food franchise has the most locations in Ohio, which is home to 277 Arby's.


Allegations that the popular fast food chain Wendy's was shutting down all stores in 2023 were proven false by Snopes last year but now, Wendy's fanatics might be sad to know that 2024 has brought the closing of about 27 locations thus far. Wendy's CFO Gunther Plosch has already announced plans to shut down over 100 locations this year, according to an early earnings call with Wendy's shareholders. More broadly however, the closures come amidst a flurry of new stores opening up, so you're not likely to start seeing Wendy's locations vanish from the landscape.


There were 35 new stores opened in the first quarter of 2024, and even more Wendy's are coming. Plosch said the brand will open at least 250 new stores this year, so fans of the fast food chain don't have to worry. Wendy's currently has over 7,000 stores across the global, and in the United States, most of its locations are concentrated in the state of Florida, which totals in with 538 locations.


In-N-Out closed its Oakland, California, location in March of this year, which is the first time an In-N-Out store has been shut down since the brand launched in 1948 — that's 76 years. According to a statement from the COO reported by the Associated Press, the closure came due to continuing issues with crime in the area; customers and employees alike experience robberies, car break-ins, and other crimes. The loss of the store came as a disappointment to the community, but there are still 16 other In-N-Out locations in the Bay Area.


The brand's success is a key reason why the shutdown of the first location was shocking for many. In-N-Out fairly invented the first drive-through for hamburgers in the state of California. Now, the brand is one of America's most notorious fast food chains. In late 2022, Market Force found that In-N-Out was the supreme burger chain amongst North American customers, with an 82% customer loyalty index and only a 3% problem experience rating. In-N-Out is also widely known for its animal-style burgers — a mustard-fried burger with pickles, grilled onions, lettuce, and extra spread — which used to be a secret menu item.

Burger King

After a significant series of closures in 2023 — the chain closed almost 300 locations — Burger King officials claim that the closure activity will slow in 2024 — but it will not cease completely. During an earnings call in early 2024, CEO Josh Kobza said that these continued closures will be fewer and more strategic moves to shut down underperforming stores and make sure the overall chain remains successful. 


Some of last year's closures, such as those from bankrupt franchisee Meridian Restaurants Unlimited, mostly occurred in Utah, Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas. Burger King remains in the middle of an investment plan worth $400 million that begun in 2022 with a focused toward upgrading the restaurant technology, kitchen equipment, and building locations. Its strategic plans have worked for the brand in the past, as its franchisees became almost 50% more profitable last year. So while 2024 will see some Burger King closures, the brand will work its plans toward building success and lessening the number of closures.

Boston Market

If you haven't heard of Boston Market in a while, you're not alone. The chain was sold to the management company Rohan Group in 2020 and has had a slow demise since then. Last year, the brand was sued for more than $11 million in unpaid bills to US Foods; the brand had a payment plan in place after it fell behind in payments to US Foods, and even after the payment plan was set in place, it failed to pay off the debt, and incurred more than $800 thousand in interest.


As of March 2024, only 27 Boston Market locations remain open, although the brand's owner Jay Pandya claims that there are actually 50 stores still open. After such large losses in court, it's unlikely many locations will remain open. In an attempt to keep locations up and running, prospective franchise operators can now start a location without any buy-in requirements. Just six years ago, in 2018, Boston Market was a top-3 store contender for rotisserie chicken, and now, in 2024, the brand might be living its last days.

Steak 'N Shake

Steak 'N Shake initially closed more than 100 locations in 2019, and there were only 506 locations open in 2023. At the end of last year, the brand had only 148 corporate-run locations, 17 of which were temporarily closed. QSR reported that Steak 'N Shake ended 2023 with plans to sell or lease 10 of 148 temporarily closed locations, which means a few less Steak 'N Shake locations by the end of 2024.


As a chain, Steak 'N Shake is more of a cult classic than an ultra-popular dining brand, so it is no surprise that, among the above, it closed 49 store locations just between 2022 and 2023. The novelty of the brand may be wearing off — although it was tried and true when the chain was getting its start at the hands of Gus Belt, who coined the slogan, "In sight, it must be right." Belt would bring in barrels of steak and grind them in front of customers, proving time and again that his burgers were in fact "steakburgers."

Belt's steakburgers were iconic enough to inspire Danny Meyer, founder of Shake Shack, to follow his burger-loving dreams and open the franchise. So, while Steak 'N Shake may not be in the greatest financial shape, the chain certainly has a legacy in the fast food world.