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Chick-fil-A Is Now the 3rd Largest Fast-Food Chain in America—and McDonald's Better Watch Out

Chick-fil-A has become massively popular in recent years, and it's raking in sales, too.
FACT CHECKED BY Justine Goodman

If there's one major success story to watch closely in the fast-food industry right now, it's Chick-fil-A. Since its humble beginnings as a shopping mall restaurant back in 1967, Chick-fil-A has exploded to more than 3,000 locations across the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada, not to mention a handful of spinoff brands. It has surpassed other major chains like KFC and Popeyes to become the largest chicken chain in America in terms of sales, and consumers rate it as their favorite restaurant brand year after year.

Newly released data only further underscores Chick-fil-A's massive popularity and tight hold on the fast-food world.

Over the past decade, Chick-fil-A has quadrupled in size to become the third-largest chain in America by sales, according to data from the research firm Technomic. Only McDonald's and Starbucks, respectively, generate more annual sales than Chick-fil-A. But even McDonald's can't keep up with Chick-fil-A in one key area.

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The chicken chain just released its franchise disclosure document for 2024, which revealed that Chick-fil-A's non-mall restaurants brought in $9.4 million in revenue on average in 2023. Per Restaurant Business Magazine, that's more than double McDonald's average unit volumes last year, which were close to $4 million.

Chick-fil-A meal
Summer_Wind / Shutterstock

Chick-fil-A also outperformed another chain known for raking in tons of revenue at its stores: Portillo's. The Italian beef and Chicago-style hot dog chain saw $9.1 million in average store revenues in 2023, slightly lower than Chick-fil-A's $9.4 million average, Restaurant Business Magazine reported.

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To be fair, Chick-fil-A's average store revenues aren't quite as high when you take its mall-based restaurants into account as well. All Chick-fil-A locations, including standalone restaurants and those in shopping malls, brought in $7.5 million last year on average. But even though $7.5 million is lower than Chick-fil-A's non-mall average of $9.4 million, it's still notably higher than McDonald's roughly $4 million average last year. So at least on the individual store level, Chick-fil-A is sweeping much of the competition right now.

Chick-fil-A's meteoric rise in the fast-food industry is especially impressive considering that it's relatively small compared to some of the other major chains. Starbucks ended 2023 with more than 38,000 locations worldwide and McDonald's currently operates more than 40,000 across the globe, compared to Chick-fil-A's 3,000+ locations.

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In other Chick-fil-A news, the chain plans to launch a new Pretzel Cheddar Club Sandwich (680 calories) and a line of Cherry Berry beverages (calories vary between each drink) on April 8. The sandwich will only be available as a test item in select Raleigh, N.C., locations, but the Cherry Berry beverages will be offered at restaurants nationwide.

Zoe Strozewski
Zoe Strozewski is a News Writer for Eat This, Not That! A Chicago native who now lives in New Jersey, she graduated from Kean University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Read more about Zoe
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