Last week's news of the McDonald's on First Avenue closing hit our town pretty hard. It was said to be the oldest, if not the original, location of the golden arches in Cedar Rapids.

While it was only one McDonald's store closing, some financial folks are concerned it could be a sign of worse things to come for American chain restaurants, as the industry continues to financially struggle due to Covid-19.

Yahoo Finance reported Monday that Sizzler Restaurant, the all-you-can-eat buffet that became popular back in the 1980s, has recently filed for bankruptcy. No big deal here, most of their restaurants are located out in the Pacific Northwest.

But word has it that the Chuck E. Cheese brand is also pretty toasted and others going through tough times include Steak and Shake, Checker's Drive-In Restaurants, and Dave and Buster's (the closest D&B is the one in Madison, Wisconsin).

The fear is that more restaurant chains may be forced to file for bankruptcy or go out of business entirely. Unprofitable stores routinely close, of course, but this is 2020 - and things will likely get weirder and worse before they get better.

Looking around eastern Iowa, you can still find a few old school chain restaurant franchises holding out, like the Long John Silver's on Williams Blvd. SW. There's an A&W near Vinton, and one in downtown Dubuque.

Some burger chains that are more contemporary like Freddy's Frozen Custard, Five Guys, and Culver's have now filled a niche for what can be described as 'premium fast food.' But that alone doesn't necessarily make them any safer from lower sales.

If times continue to be challenging, you can bet that dining out or even hitting the drive-thru may become a much more infrequent meal option.

Ultimately experts think that it's possible only the biggest chains like McDonald's, Taco Bell, and Burger King will survive long term, thanks to years of creating well-known brands featuring much-loved menus and strong passion scores among customers.

If that day ever comes you may find it beneficial that you once took a few cooking lessons.

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