The 5 Most Popular Fast-Food Chains Right Now
Every year, QSR, an industry publication dedicated to "quick-service restaurants," aka fast-food spots, publishes a list that ranks the top 50 chains in America. These are determined by the sales recorded from the previous year by the chains themselves, which are then analyzed by an independent research firm.
This year, in particular, the convenience of drive-thru and delivery options, on top of affordable prices, has many fast-food chains seeing a return to profitability after a tough early start due to COVID-19. "Restaurants will forever bear the scars of 2020, but in many ways, they'll also be stronger for what they've gone through," QSR writes.
Here are the top five most popular fast-food chains in the U.S., according to the ranking. (And, for more restaurant news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter.)
McDonald's founder, Ray Kroc, is largely credited with inventing fast-food as we currently know it. And, to no one's surprise, McDonald's is still the most popular quick-service option. According to QSR, the fast-food giant raked in over $40 billion in revenue in 2019 across nearly 14,000 U.S. locations. That's a lot of Big Macs!
However, the news isn't all rosy for McDonald's, as the total number of locations declined by 66 from 2018. They also recently announced that they would be closing roughly 200 locations—many at Walmart—in 2020. (Related: McDonald's Considers This Drastic Step for Face-Mask Rule Breakers.)
This should come as no surprise, particularly if you drive around a city or suburban area with your eyes open. Starbucks' locations almost define the term "ubiquitous" as they boast over 15,000 total units across the U.S., according to QSR. The coffee chain continued to grow in 2019, having added over 200 new locations from the previous year. (Related: 30 Secrets Starbucks Employees Wish You Knew
Judged purely by anecdotal praise and loyalty, you might expect this Atlanta-based fast-food giant to be the top draw. But Chick-fil-A will have to settle for bronze in the list of top national fast-food chains. According to the report, there are 2,500 locations in the country, but most impressive? They lead the nation in average sales revenue per outlet. (Related: The One Menu Item You Should Never Order At Chick-fil-A
Turns out, Americans love to "break for the border," as Taco Bell booked $11 billion in revenue last year. That is a lot of burritos supreme. Taco Bell holds a curious place in the fast-food arena as it appeals to a very broad set of diners, but also has an oddly cultish following, evidenced by a recent online freakout when they announced changes to their menu.
Just sliding into the top five is Burger King, America's second favorite burger chain. QSR reports that there are over 7,000 BK locations, which earned an impressive $10 billion in revenue in 2019. (Related: The Worst Burger You Should Never Order From Burger King)
For more, check out how much McDonald's the CEO says he eats every week.