The convenience of a fast food restaurant staying open twenty-four hours a day is only as awesome as the food it serves. Granted, even just after the midnight hour, beggars can’t always be choosers if you’re looking for a satisfying meal to get you through the wee hours of the night. However, if you have the luxury to pick and choose between at least ten of the best fast-food restaurants that are open twenty-four hours a day, you have the advantage of choice.
If you’re someone on the road often when traveling across America (and perhaps even into Canada) having access to some of the best twenty-four-hour spots certainly comes in handy. Sometimes, you’re lucky enough to just go to a drive-thru window, place your order and go. Sometimes, you may have to step out of the vehicle and go inside. Speaking as someone who used to be on the road often as a delivery driver, this was a good thing. It’s important to step out of the vehicle and stretch your legs. This is especially true when you’re driving in the middle of the night. Some of the best fast food restaurants in the business often take the men and women who work graveyard shifts to mind. They also take into consideration people who drive the big rigs, making sure they’re easy enough to access for vehicles as large as an eighteen-wheeler. There are even some of them that offer delivery services.
When the combination of good food, good service, and ideal accessibility comes to mind, here’s our list of the top ten best fast food restaurants that are open twenty-four hours a day: It is important to note that not all locations offer 24-hour service. However these are the fast food restaurants with the most 24 hour locations.
#10 – Arby’s
In order to fill the hunger gap that doesn’t always come in the form of fried chicken or a hamburger, Arby’s is the answer as a fast-food restaurant chain that also has locations open twenty-four hours. The first Arby’s sprang up in 1964 in Boardman, Ohio, when Forrest and Leroy Raffel decided to start up their own franchise. At the time, the fast-food options primarily focused on burgers, fried chicken, and standard sandwiches. What the Raffel Brothers offered was “Arby’s,” a name that came from the pronunciation R.B. Since then, Arby’s and its familiar hat logo have expanded to over three thousand fast-food locations worldwide. If you’re located in a demographic that features a collection of twenty-four-hour fast food locations, Arby’s is a really good choice if you want to sink your teeth into some tasty roast beef. If you’re bent on having chicken or something vegetarian, they have that too.
#9 – McDonald’s
McDonald’s deserves to be mentioned. This fast-food restaurant chain literally remains at the top of the food chain when it comes to accessibility and convenience. While not everybody who is a fan of fast food may necessarily admit they’re a fan of McDonald’s, the numbers don’t lie. Billions of people have visited a McDonald’s location at least once in their lifetime, as well as millions who keep coming back for more. With over forty thousand locations that sport the infamous golden arches logo, there are more twenty-four McDonald’s restaurants around the world than any other fast food restaurant chain in the business. Among the locations that have drive-thru windows, lineups are a given during busier eating times.
Many people driving to work in the morning who want something on the go in the morning will go to McDonald’s. They will also do the same when it’s time to go back home. Burgers are a staple favorite in North American culture, as well as the french fries and soda that are conveniently offered to go with it. Like them or hate them, McDonald’s has maintained its foothold as one of the best fast-food restaurant chains in the business since opening up its first location in San Bernardino, California, in 1940. At the time, it was a humble little spot operated by Maurice and Richard McDonald, two brothers who put their experience as restauranteurs to good use, along with the marketing techniques that exploded McDonald’s into the giant it is today.
#8 – Taco Bell
Taco Bell is among the largest fast-food restaurant chains of its kind in America. It also has several locations stretched across Canada. However, not all of them are open twenty-four hours a day but this is changing fast as the demand for more fast food restaurants to keep their doors open all the time continues to increase. Many of them already do keep really long hours, going as late as three o’clock in the morning, pending on location. While Taco Bell is regarded as a Mexican-inspired restaurant, its founder, Glen Bell, will point out it was never the intent to serve authentic Mexican food. The idea was to offer good fast food at reasonable prices. This came to Glen Bell while he ran his own hot dog stand in San Bernardino, California, observing how long customers had to wait in order to eat at a Mexican restaurant that was located across the street from him.
When he learned the secret to what made that restaurant so popular, Bell opened up what technically became the first Taco Bell in 1951. Since then, this restaurant chain has expanded clean across America, as well as Canada. There are also restaurant locations around the world. There are approximately seven thousand locations in total. As for locating the twenty-four-hour spots, Taco Bell does have an app, as well as a website, that can help you in the search. There are known twenty-four-hour locations in the busiest communities belonging to Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.
#7 – Wendy’s
When seeing the image of a young girl with bright red pigtails, it’s easy to identify this as the familiar face belonging to Wendy’s. This was the name of Dave Thomas’s daughter, whom he named this infamous fast-food restaurant chain after, even though her name was actually Melinda Lou. The first Wendy’s location sprang up in Columbus, Ohio, in 1969, with square burger patties instead of round. The marketing scheme behind this was to make the burgers appear larger by having their corners stick out of the circular bun. It was a formula that worked. Starting in 1972, Wendy’s began to open up additional locations. By 1976, it was also making its presence felt in Canada.
Today, Wendy’s is a global giant with over six thousand restaurants to its name. Many of the locations are open twenty-four hours, but not all of them. Like the majority of fast food restaurants, the operating hours are based on demographics. Also like the majority of its competitors, Wendy’s has its own app and website customers can access. This comes in handy when you’re traveling in the wee hours of the night which will lead you to a location that has an open Wendy’s drive-thru nearby. Although Wendy’s earned a name for itself as a great burger place, if you’d rather have chicken or something vegetarian, those are also great choices on the menu.
#6 – Subway
What makes Subway among the best fast-food restaurant chains is how easy it is for so many of them to stay open twenty fours hours. That’s why there are so many of them located at truck stops that keep their doors open every single day. With over thirty-five thousand locations worldwide, Subway has something for everyone. If you don’t care for a submarine-style sandwich, there are soups and salads that can take care of the hunger, even if it’s in the middle of the night. The concept behind Subway began in 1965 with Fred DeLuca. For him, the idea was to borrow a thousand dollars to run a little submarine shop in Bridgeport, Connecticut, so that he could pay for the tuition he intended to use as a medical student. In 1974, what started out as a sole location became a franchise. Subway has since earned its place as one of the best fast-food restaurant chains in America. This is also the case in Canada. Subway’s biggest appeal is it serves as a healthier alternative to fast food. Instead of burgers and fried chicken, Subway offers a menu of items that’s also at least a notch or two above a simple sandwich.
#5 – Carl’s Jr.
With over three thousand locations across America, Canada, and the rest of the world, Carl’s Jr. ranks as among the best fast-food restaurants that also provide twenty-four-hour service to its customers. This began in 1941 when Carl and Margaret Karcher first went into business as hot dog vendors with their own cart in 1941. On a street corner in Los Angeles, California, the couple sold cheap hot dogs and other items to customers who stopped by its convenient location for a quick bite to eat. The operation soon expanded to four hot dog stands before becoming a full-service restaurant known as Carl’s Drive-In Barbecue.
In 1946, Carl’s began to serve up hamburgers as part of the restaurant’s menu. While there may not be near as many Carl’s Jr. locations as giants like McDonald’s, the increasing popularity of this franchise continues to expand its reach as the demand for fast-food restaurant chains continues to increase. This also includes some of the locations operating around the clock, especially among busier locations that want to be able to grab a juicy burger even if it’s in the middle of the night. In order to keep up with consumer trends, Carl’s Jr. also has a menu that offers more than just burgers. As for locating which sites are open twenty-four hours, Carl’s Jr. has its own app and website to make it easy for potential customers to learn more.
#4- Popeyes Louisiana Chicken
The first Popeyes Louisiana Chicken restaurant opened up its doors in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1972. While the specialty is fried chicken, this fast-food restaurant chain also offers alternatives to diners who’d rather eat something else on its menu. When it first opened its doors, this was founder Al Copeland’s attempt to compete against Kentucky Fried Chicken. In 1976, it began to operate as a franchise that now has approximately three thousand restaurants located across America and the rest of the world. Popeyes has some locations that are open twenty-four hours but those are primarily located in some of the more populous cities such as Los Angeles, California. While Popeyes may not have the same amount of locations as KFC, its popularity continues to grow.
#3 – Burger King
The first Burger King popped up in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1953, as Insta-Burger King. This came about after Keith J. Kramer and his wife’s uncle, Matthew Burns, visited McDonald’s first store location in San Bernardino, California. This eventually led to a 1967 acquisition that would form Burger King as the popular fast-food restaurant chain we know now. Now closing in on twenty thousand locations worldwide, Burger King has earned its place as one of the largest franchises of its kind. Many of their locations offer twenty-four hours of food service, as well as drive-thrus, for customer convenience. They’re popular in the United States of America, as well as Canada, as a favorite spot for a quick bit to eat that rarely fails when it comes to offering good food no matter what the hour. If you’re unsure which Burger King locations offer the twenty-four-hour service, it has an app, as well as a website, that’s easy enough to access so you can figure it out.
#2 – KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken)
In 1930, Colonel Harland Sanders took over a gas station just outside North Corbin, Kentucky. It was at this location he served hungry travelers the same kind of food he grew up with as a kid. His niche product was fried chicken as it was the very item that kept customers coming back for more. However, it wasn’t until 1939 before Sanders figured out how to speed up the cooking process of what we know now as Kentucky Fried Chicken. As soon as he learned how to modify and use pressure cookers to his advantage, the start of America’s most successful fried chicken food chain was now underway.
Today, there are over twenty thousand KFC locations located around the world. While not every KFC has a twenty-four-hour window for customers to order some fried chicken, many of them do keep late hours for the sake of customer convenience. If you’re not into fried chicken, KFC does offer grilled options. If you’re vegetarian, KFC has that covered with meatless alternatives and side dishes. KFC also has a great app that’s easily accessible, as well as a handy website, should you need to find out more about their locations and the hours they keep.
#1 – Jack in the Box
In 1941, Robert Oscar Peterson opened up Topsy’s Drive-In in San Diego, California. It didn’t take long before this became a circus-themed fast-food restaurant chain. In 1951, he converted his first location to Jack in the Box. He also converted it to enable a drive-thru service where customers could order their burgers on the go. While at this time drive-thrus were already becoming increasingly familiar, it was Jack in the Box that became the first major restaurant chain to utilize the two-way intercom system. This convenience allowed customers to use drive-thru service to visit, place their order from the luxury of their own vehicle, and move on at a faster pace.
Thanks to this formula of success, Jack in the Box quickly expanded throughout California, then across America. It now has over two thousand locations that offer more than just good burgers. If you’d rather have chicken or stick to a vegetarian diet, Jack in the Box is able to provide it without a problem. Jack in the Box is a franchise that’s constantly on the lookout for new restaurant locations as it continues to expand across the nation. Interested investors need to bear in mind it must offer drive-thru service. While not every Jack in the Box is necessarily open twenty-four hours a day, among the locations in busier cities, many of them are. The chain has an app, as well as a website, that’s user-friendly enough to help you determine what kind of hours specific locations of interest keep.
10 Best Fast Food Restaurants Open 24 Hours A Day article published on BigCityReview.com© 2023
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