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Though breakfast would be a late-night differentiator for McDonald’s, Adams and Penney agreed that expanding McDonald’s After Midnight was not a precursor to the brand’s long-rumored adoption of 24-hour breakfast service.

“Breakfast all day is impossible,” Adams said. “The menu is too broad already and too complicated for the restaurant and the consumer. To add all-day breakfast would be a disaster. Jack in the Box does it, but they serve half the customers McDonald’s does and they’re in a different business.”

McDonald’s may hint occasionally that it would explore all-day breakfast to gin up interest in that menu, Penney added, but its stores in the United States do not have the equipment or capacity to grill burgers and breakfast sandwiches 24 hours a day.

“The box is not set up to do 24-hour breakfast,” Penney said. “The restaurants would need major equipment upgrades.”

Yet Stibel said McDonald’s could explore all-day breakfast further if it sees a big shift toward breakfast sales at multiple occasions, like late at night.

“I get what they’re saying: Operationally, [breakfast] is tough when you’re trying to move hamburgers and French fries all day,” he said. “But trust me, if this works, they’ll find a way to do it. I wouldn’t count McDonald’s out just because current operations make it difficult.”

Of McDonald’s more than 34,000 restaurants around the world, more than 14,000 units are located in the United States.

Contact Mark Brandau at mark.brandau@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN