Opinion Piece By Samuel Strait – Reporter at Large – December 24, 2021

For the past month or so, I have been on the road so to speak, traveling
mostly in Oregon, Washington and Northern California. One of the regular
costs of time and money, are finding places to eat while traveling. 
Since the Pandemic reared its ugly head, that problem has only gotten
worst.  Restrictions, new rules, shortage of employees, shortages of
food, and all manner of things most of us do not think about.  While on
the road, fast food restaurants on several occasions became the food
stop of choice. And, what a “new world” they have become.

Before I retired, lunch in Crescent City quite often became the fast
cheap option of Burger King, MacDonald’s, or Taco Bell that so many of
us elect to use for that mid day food stop when dollars are in short
supply and time is as well.  It has almost become the Country’s
tradition to eat fast food for many of us. 

Then came the Pandemic and all that changed.  Drive up windows became the way of the fast food
industry for over a year.  It is just now that West Coast fast food
places are beginning to re open their dining rooms.  Aside from the
inconvenience of eating in the car or waiting while your food got cold
to eat at home, dining in at a fast food restaurant was rapidly becoming
a memory.

Yet, that is not the only thing that has changed for the worst. Once
fast food places were fast as the name suggests, a meal in less than ten
minutes.  Not so any more, forty one minutes to produce a simple
hamburger during the dinner hour.  Thirty seven when in between meal
times.  Thirty six minutes for a breakfast sandwich at 10:00 am.  Fast
food?  Granted this industry has serious employee issues, not enough
people willing to work.  Crews that once were five or six and a manager
at the dinner hour, now down to two and a manager.  Even in regular
restaurants the service was slow and the staff minimal.  For hire signs
on every door.  Yet sit down restaurants have begun to reach parity with
fast food places

Aside from the slow service, prices for simple meals now rival regular
restaurants minus the tip.  Food quality has lessened, and presentation
is hurried.  Is this what we have to look forward from now on?  Has fast
and cheap food come and gone? Maybe so. With dwindling offerings on the
menu and difficulty getting ingredients because of the failure of the
supply chain, problems with offerings have become common.   Slow
service, lack of staff, costly food and the log jam at the drive up
window.  A bleak future for the fast food industry unless the Country
tries to get back to normal.

7 thoughts on “Fast Food That Is No Longer Fast, Nor Cheap”
  1. Maybe it’s time to get back to basics. I’m old school. When I was growing up we only ate burgers on a Friday or Saturday. Through the week we made our own meals.
    Although cooking is time consuming there are crockpots, electric pressure cookers and other devices that help speed up the time to make more nutritious foods.
    I am guilty for going out on days I don’t feel like cooking because I cook for myself. However, that is far too expensive to do if there is a family of 3 or more.
    Making meals in advance and freezing them in portions is another good way of speeding up the cooking process. In any case it is an individual preference and during times of inflation it is better to make our own food than to eat a McDonalds wonder meat burger

  2. Yes, the prices have gone up while the size, quality, and taste of the food have gone down. Why? Because they know that we will put up with it. As the “less for more” process churns away we continue to line up.
    Also, I do wonder about a safety issue, the drive-throughs. Our drive-throughs are not designed for the current volume of cars that came with COVID. For many of us using the drive-through has become a habit. I can not count the number of times that the number of cars simply do not fit and thus the line cuts into the lane of traffic or into some other location where safety is an issue. I am surprised we have not had a major car accident at one of these locations.

    1. RT, you are correct, I had not thought of the safety issue until there were two cars parked on 101 that were waiting in a drive-through line.
      The car in front of me almost rear ended one of them. Will we wait until there is an accident to do something about this?
      Of course we will. Then everyone will react. A little too little a lot too late. Welcome to Del Norte County.

  3. I can remember when McDonalds was a once in a couple months treat. Stocking stuffers had McDonalds gift certificates in them if you were lucky. Now a typical burger fries and drink is over 10$. I began ordering from the dollar menu.

      1. Dairy Queen was the only franchise where I grew up. I had a newspaper delivery route, mowed lawns and did odd jobs; so I was always flush with cash. Once a week I would spend a buck and a quarter for a hamburger, fries, soft-drink and a Chocolate Fudge Sunday. Those were the days!

        Later on, we had a Taco Bell move in across from Western Auto. Anybody remember the “Bell Burger?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.