‘Challenging’ – McDonald’s closes in Mammoth Lakes

By Charles James

The owners of the McDonald’s franchise in Mammoth Lakes announced the permanent closing of the restaurant, which closed at the end of the day on Labor Day.


It has had a troubled earnings history for many years according to franchise owners Lis and Kevin Mazzu. The couple took over the franchise in 2004. The restaurant, which opened in 1985, never realized the expectations that McDonald’s Corporation had hoped for the resort community.

In a statement, the Mazzus wrote—

“Being a small business owner in California is challenging, especially in a small town like Mammoth Lakes with extreme seasonality, drought impacts, dependence on tourism, a transient workforce and higher costs of doing business. We are excited to able to focus our attention on our 2 viable restaurants located in Bishop and Lone Pine, where we are strongly supported by the local citizenry and enjoy being involved in, and giving back to the local community.”


Online comments on the closing have been largely sympathetic, noting that the well-liked owners have made many contributions in support of local causes, especially in support of local schools and children.

The restaurant had approximately 20 employees as it came to the end of the summer season, many of whom received two-week’s severance pay and will receive references and whatever help the Mazzus can provide in helping them find employment.

Six employees are relocating to work at the other two McDonald’s owned by the Mazzus in Bishop and Lone Pine and they will receive assistance in relocating. Seven of the employees that were let go were high school students.

While the permanent closing of the restaurant may have come as a big surprise to its employees and local residents, followers of McDonald’s Corporation news would not have been surprised. McDonald’s has been missing its target earnings goals for the several years, which has been dragging down its stock value.

The troubled fast-food chain has been aggressively closing over 700 “under-performing stores” of its over 32,500 restaurants world-wide in an effort to improve its results. There were 14,157 McDonald’s in the United States in 2015 and 1,417 McDonald’s restaurants in Canada, before they started shuttering under-performing stores last year.

In January of this year, after 31 years in business, the McDonald’s in Aspen, Colorado permanently closed its doors. The Aspen franchise owner, Paul Nelson, said the McDonald’s Corporation made the decision to close “under-performing restaurants.”

Closer to home in the Eastern Sierra, the McDonald’s in Lake Isabella, which has been in business for 16 years, closed its doors for the last time on May 30 of this year as well.

The reasons for the under-performing earnings reports of McDonald’s has been attributed to a variety reasons including market saturation, a lagging economy, higher wages, and even “health consciousness” of Americans.

The property and building in Mammoth Lakes is owned by McDonald’s and will be sold. The Mammoth franchise was on the list of potential closures by the corporation, but the Mazzus decided to keep the store open at least until Labor Day when the traditional summer tourist season ends.

McDonald’s success, as with most fast food restaurants in resort areas, are heavily dependent on tourism to survive. The seasonal nature of many resorts, which are often located several miles from the main thoroughfares, often result in lean times during the shoulder months between the summer and winter tourist seasons which have the greatest numbers of customers.

In a case of “Out of sight; out of mind,” a clear problem for the Town of Mammoth Lakes—when it is not the target destination—is that many travelers along the 395 Hwy corridor will not drive the 2 miles off-highway into town during the shoulder seasons, choosing to stop to eat in Bishop, Lake Tahoe or Carson City.


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15 Responses to ‘Challenging’ – McDonald’s closes in Mammoth Lakes

  1. Lyle Chipperson September 18, 2016 at 12:39 pm #

    Lets not forget the prediction of labor costs[ minimum wage hike] Who is going to pay 8.50 for a Big Mac?

  2. Trouble September 18, 2016 at 11:27 am #

    My personnel opinion is they ought to be ashamed of themselves for feeding that food to young kids. Parents too.

  3. Mammoth Local September 16, 2016 at 10:03 pm #

    Hate to break it to you all.. but it’s a slap in the face to every Mammoth local for the owners to make a statement as such: “We are excited to able to focus our attention on our 2 viable restaurants located in Bishop and Lone Pine, where we are strongly supported by the local citizenry and enjoy being involved in, and giving back to the local community.”
    Seems that the Mammoth locals supported this business for 12 years and all of a sudden they want to blame the citizens for this? I believe there was a lack of proper management going on at McDonalds. Every time you went and tried to order something they were either closed (often times before 7 pm) or didn’t have the item you wanted. This goes far above the problem of it being a “slow year”. Several businesses have actually stated they have had a really good year this last year and town always seems to be busy.

  4. Dan September 16, 2016 at 4:56 pm #

    Too bad about the loss of jobs and all… Maybe McDonald’s isn’t a good fit for Mammoth anyway, since the town’s leaders seem to be following the path of catering only to the wealthy and elite…

  5. John Barton September 16, 2016 at 2:09 pm #

    Most people don’t realize the majority of Mc Donalds value across the nation is in its real estate holdings. As a lifelong resident of Bishop I appreciate the community support the Mazzus have contributed and I can understand business decisions can be tough at times.

  6. Steve September 16, 2016 at 9:14 am #

    The owners are nice people, but they must have been clueless on how to offer good service in Mammoth. Last time I went to the drive thru it was 15 minuets for a cup of coffee. Worst Mc D’s in the country.

  7. Mammoth Watchdog September 16, 2016 at 9:12 am #

    Hmmm. Another business closing its doors during the “busiest year in Mammoth on record.”
    Something does not sound quite right.

  8. Nat September 16, 2016 at 6:41 am #

    This will make an excellent location for a Marijuana Dispensary with a drive-thru order your Meds 🙂

    • Low Inyo September 16, 2016 at 2:30 pm #

      …just what Mammoth needs…..another “medical ” dispensary……people I know down here in Lower-Inyo,when they go skiing or on vacation,the majority of them choose June Lake over Mammoth….the main reason….they want to enjoy themselves and have a good time away from goofy people and away from the bars and taverns and the element they and that brings to an area….especially in the evening…

  9. Hank September 15, 2016 at 5:29 pm #

    McDonald’s does seem to be on the downhill slide overall. The Mammoth location always seemed a bit strange, with slow service and food quality less than average for Mickey D’s. Can’t blame the owners for shutting this location if it was not profitable, but it’s pretty bold to blame seasonality and drought…reports keep showing that this was the busiest year in Mammoth on record, but if your product stinks, nothing will save it. It’s rumored that the owners left the area and moved to SoCal anyway, so maybe they are focusing on SoCal locationsl. Does that mean that Bishop and Lone Pine locations are next on the chopping block? Several other places seem to be keeping the doors open and doing okay. Let’s hope that Chipotle buys the building and opens a new location in Mammoth (would be funny since Chipotle was once owned by McDonald’s.)

    • Right On September 16, 2016 at 9:49 am #

      Chipolte would do great in Mammoth…

    • Tinner September 16, 2016 at 7:44 pm #

      Like Chart House, Shogun and Perry’s Italian Cafe?

  10. DESCO September 15, 2016 at 4:06 pm #

    Too bad,
    When I worked construction at Snow Creek, in the frozen white hell of winter, a Big Mac and a heated bathroom were the highlights of the day. The creme de la creme visitors don’t eat at McDonalds. As for the locals, eating at home is still cheaper than eating out. Even at McDonalds.

  11. Tinner September 15, 2016 at 3:03 pm #

    I’ve never seen such poor ratings at ANY business on yelp, sad.


  12. Right On September 15, 2016 at 2:12 pm #

    Guess there was nothing left for McDonalds after all the Record TOT Taxes were paid by Visitors..


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