Iconic Hollywood Arby’s Closes Down After 55 Years; 91-Year-Old Owner Blames the Pandemic and California’s Fast Food Minimum Wage Law

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Jun 19, 2024

The iconic Arby’s restaurant located on Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard has closed down after 55 years. According to the beef sandwich chain’s franchisee, lingering effects from the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent passing of California’s new fast food minimum wage law have led to this closure.

This long-standing Arby’s is just the last fast food establishment to shut its doors in recent months, as many business owners have claimed it’s difficult to do business in the Golden State ever since this minimum wage law went into effect.

Arby’s on Sunset Boulevard

This iconic Arby’s has been located on Sunset Boulevard since it first opened 55 years ago, in January of 1969.

A close-up of a Sunset Boulevard sign on a pole next to palm trees.

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The franchisee, Marilyn Leviton, has been the owner of the fast food eatery since day one. No other owner has been in charge of this establishment. Now 91 years old, Leviton has decided to shut the location down for good.


A Recent Closure

Hollywood’s Arby’s closed down rather recently, with no major fanfare. This past Saturday, it closed its doors.

An Arby’s location seen on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Source: Minnaert/Wikimedia Commons

The location is also now no longer listed on Arby’s website.

The Reason for the Closure

According to Leviton, there are two main reasons why she decided to finally shut the fast food restaurant’s doors: the pandemic and the new minimum wage law in California.

A bird’s eye view of tall Los Angeles buildings.

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“Truth is, I think it was the pandemic that did us in,” Leviton explained. “I really feel we would have closed during the pandemic, except for the federal loans.”

Changes at Arby’s

Leviton also explained that Arby’s wanted its franchises to adopt different equipment in the future, something that she didn’t think they would be able to easily afford.

A view of an Arby’s location seen at night lit up.

Source: A Gude/Wikimedia Commons

“Arby’s is demanding more technical equipment, which we couldn’t afford, and I don’t think the $20-an-hour wage increase helped either,” she stated.

An Iconic Location Shut Down for Good

This specific Arby’s on Sunset Boulevard has become legendary for many in Los Angeles, thanks to how long it has been open and running in the city.

A view of the Hollywood sign on hills in Los Angeles.

Source: Nathan DeFiesta/Unsplash

Back when this location first opened in 1969, it was the only fast food place that had a view of the Hollywood sign.


The End of Hollywood’s Arby’s

Leviton expressed her grief at having to shut down the restaurant she’s owned and run for 55 years. She also positively explained that she feels they’ve always done the best job they can over the decades.

A close-up of an Arby’s meal and sandwich.

Source: Mike Mozart/Wikimedia Commons

Leviton said, “I’m awfully sorry that it came to this.” She also added, “I think we did a good job for 55 years.”


Struggles in the Fast Food Industry

Leviton’s decision to close down the fast food restaurant she’s owned and ran for 55 years comes as many other fast food franchisees continue to struggle within the industry.

Many In-N-Out workers behind the counter.

Source: Qi Li/Unsplash

These notable struggles began during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many fast food eateries around the country couldn’t offer dine-in experiences. Instead, they had to rely on delivery or drive-thru orders.


The Pandemic in California

Fast food establishments in California may have suffered more than those in other states during the pandemic, as the Golden State enacted strict stay-at-home measures that kept many businesses from running as they would normally.

A close-up of blue facial masks.

Source: Mika Baumeister/Unsplash

Leviton’s own admissions about how her Arby’s would’ve shut down during the pandemic if it wasn’t for government financial assistance shows just how detrimental the pandemic was for many fast food franchisees.


California’s New Minimum Wage Law

Leviton also pointed to California’s new minimum wage law, which increased the minimum wage fast food employees earn to $20 an hour. This law officially went into effect on April 1 of this year.

A close-up of a modern minimalist McDonald’s sign on a building.

Source: Janet Ganbold/Unsplash

Since then, many in the fast food industry have blasted the government and California Governor Gavin Newsom for enacting this law.


Effects of the Fast Food Minimum Wage Law

While many fast-food industry workers have applauded the law that has given them a pay increase, business owners have warned that this law could harm their restaurants.

A view of a California street with cars driving in front of an In-N-Out Burger sign.

Source: Alessandro Porri/Unsplash

Once the law went into effect, many fast-food chains began to lay off workers. Some have invested more money into automation. Meanwhile, many locations have shut down for good, as they have stated they cannot do business successfully because of this law.


Menu Prices Increase

One of the most common ways restaurant owners have dealt with this law is by raising the price of food items on their menus.

A close-up of a McDonald’s drive-thru menu.

Source: Erik Mclean/Unsplash

Now, many people in California have claimed that fast food establishments have become too expensive, as everything has been raised in price.