Northern California McDonald’s offers free coffee during tough economic times

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Local McDonald’s restaurant locations in Northern California will be kicking off 2012 with a kind gesture for California residents struggling in uncertain economic times. For a full two weeks, beginning on Monday, January 2, McDonald’s restaurants throughout Northern California will be giving a “free small Premium Roast Coffee made with 100 percent fire-roasted Arabaca Beans to all customers during business hours with no purchase necessary.”

Steven Ramirez, a local McDonald’s restaurant owner from Elk Grove, says:

“In this challenging economic climate, we know that many are struggling to make ends meet and this is our way of lending support during these difficult times. As the holiday season comes to a close and budgets become tight, we hope this program will offer some comfort to our community and also warm them up a little during this cold, winter season.”

There are over 160 McDonald’s Restaurants in the Greater Sacramento/Stockton/Modesto Area, owned and operated by more than 54 franchisees. The fast food franchise’s free coffee initiative will last from Monday, January 2 until Sunday January 15, including restaurants in the following counties:

Sacramento
Placer
Nevada
Sutter
Yuba
Yolo
El Dorado (not including S. Lake Tahoe restaurants)
Solano (not including restaurants west of Fairfield)
San Joaquin
Stanislaus
Amador
Calaveras
Tuolumne
Colusa

How can McDonald’s afford the free coffee program? While times may be tough for many American workers and businesses, 2011 was a great year for the global fast food giant, which included a 50,000 worker, single day hiring blitz in April, and the best performance of any Dow Jones stock. According to IRA.com:

‘The top performing Dow Jones component stock so far in 2011 has been hands-down McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD). The fast food restaurant business, which boasts franchises worldwide, has provided shareholders with a 30 percent annual YTD return. Since beginning the year priced at $76.76 per share, McDonald’s has steadily risen and even increased its dividend from $0.61 to $0.70 – resulting in a yield of 2.8 percent. The firm’s 3Q FY 2011 Earnings Report showed a 9 percent earnings increase from $1.39B in 2010 to $1.51 billion in the period ending September 30th, 2011.’

Notably absent from the list of participating counties is Santa Clara County, which stirred a controversy with libertarians and conservatives critical of the growing “nanny state” when it banned toys from McDonald’s Happy Meals. County supervisors reasoned that the ban “breaks the link between unhealthy food and prizes.” Despite neighboring counties with McDonald’s locations participating in the coffee giveaway– including San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties– Santa Clara County residents will have to drive north for free coffee.