Woman Goes to 3 Different Burger Kings and Sees Firsthand Why They’re Shutting Down Stores

By: Ben Campbell | Published: Dec 06, 2023

Earlier this year, Burger King announced that it planned to close up to 400 restaurants in 2023 after years of declining interest from the public.

One woman decided to find out why. Erin McDowell ventured to three different Burger Kings in New York City to try to understand what’s causing this once prosperous fast-food chain to crumble into decline.

Burger King in a State of Decline

The home of the Whopper has been at the forefront of fast food for decades. Burger King has close to 19,000 locations worldwide, including 7,000 in the United States.

Customers wait to order from the extensive menu at a Burger King Whopper bar in New York City

Source: Shinya Suzuki/Wikipedia

Yet, with the rise of delivery apps that can bring you anything you desire, older fast-food drive-throughs are beginning to feel the pressure of competition.


Over 400 Locations Set to Close

The latest round of closings for Burger King has affected stores in Nebraska, Florida, and New York, where popularity has dropped recently.

Burger King sign outside of a restaurant that reveals the store will be closed until further notice

Source: InterestingAsFu**/Reddit

According to Joshua Kobza, CEO of Burger King’s parent company, Restaurant Brands International, they’ve decided to close “older and lower performing restaurants to support a more modern system increasingly run by better operators.

Keeping Up with Trends

To keep up with changing tastes, other franchises, such as Raising Canes, have turned their restaurants into attractions in New York City. They offer art installations and even DJs.

DJ uses his mixers to perform a live set for a group of people

Source: Freepik

Erin McDowell has recently taken it upon herself to visit three Burger Kings in New York City to figure out why they’re closing and whether they can keep up with other modernized fast-food restaurants.

In the Heart of the City

Erin decided that she would venture into New York’s Financial District to inspect the first Burger King on her list.

Isaiah Shields pauses to check his location in a Burger King as he walks across America toward his destination in Maine

Source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Yet, she was surprised to find a modern location. The seating area was airy, and natural light passed through the building. Decorations for fall were also peppered throughout the restaurant.

Erin Had No Complaints

Erin proceeded to order The Whopper, which came to just over $13, including tax. She claims it was packed with flavor and even had an authentic chargrilled taste.

Woman gets ready to eat a giant beef burger dressed with all sides, including cheese, lettuce, and tomato

Source: Freepik

She concluded that the Burger King was comfortable and clean, and the food was undeniably good.


Next Up, Manhattan

Sometime later, Erin decided to check out a Burger King located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Aerial view of Midtown Manhattan, the world's largest central business district

Source: Anthony Quintano/Wikipedia

As she approached the location, Erin noticed they appeared to be doing construction. Otherwise, it seemed clean and inviting.


Outdated Store

Erin immediately noticed that this location in Manhattan had a dated interior, including an old logo on the wall. Also, it had an unusual industrial style of furnishing and wall art.

Customers enjoy a meal inside a Burger King restaurant in Illinois in 2002

Source: Tim Boyle/Getty Images

The store had no electronic ordering kiosks, and the overall feeling was that this location hadn’t received a modern revamp.


The Final Location

The final Burger King Erin traveled to was located in Brooklyn, an iconic area known for its attractions and pizza.

Burger King sign illuminated during the night on the street in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn

Source: Richard Levine/Getty Images

As she entered the restaurant, she noticed a plexiglass shield separating the cash register from the customer. Generally, this is only observed in liquor stores, so Erin was surprised to see it in Burger King.


Taking a Trip Back in Time

The booths and murals inside the restaurant in Brooklyn felt like they hadn’t been updated since the 80s.

Freshly prepared chicken wrap is served up on a wooden platter alongside fresh cherry tomatoes

Source: Freepik

Yet, the food was up to scratch. The spicy chicken wrap Erin ordered was flavorful and worth every part of the $13 paid.


Inconsistent Design Throughout the Restaurants

Erin gave her final thoughts after visiting the three Burger Kings. One thing was apparent: all three locations greatly varied in design.

A photographer takes a picture inside an empty restaurant full of leather chairs and wooden tables

Source: Freepik

While the food was generally appetizing, she revealed that if she returned to any Burger King, she’d be satisfied by going through the drive-thru.


How Burger King Can Modernize Its Locations

If Burger King wants to ensure it doesn’t get left behind in the restaurant business, it will have to ensure that it becomes more of a destination as opposed to a stop along the way, according to Erin.

An example of the 20/20 Burger King concept interior at one of their locations in the Irish City of Cork

Source: Bjorn Christian Torrissen/Wikipedia

Yet, she believes it has a long way to go with regard to unifying its locations into cohesive, inspiring places.

Source: Business Insider