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This Giant Fast-Food Company Is Taking Over The U.S.

It opened an average of one new restaurant every two hours last year.

Despite inflation on everything from groceries to fast-food ingredients, one fast-food giant is making major strides when it comes to keeping up with customer demand. 

Yum Brands, the parent company of Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut, opened over 4,100 new restaurants in 2021—shattering fast-food records for the most openings in a single year.

In a fourth-quarter earnings call, Yum Brands CEO David Gibbs told investors that the past year's openings average out to about one new restaurant every two hours. This growth has helped solidify Yum Brands as the biggest fast-food company in the U.S… and the world.

"This speaks to the health of our business; iconic brands; capable, committed and well-capitalized franchise partners; and strong unit economics," Gibbs said in the call. "This is yet another significant development milestone on our ongoing growth journey, providing customers with access to our brands through a variety of restaurant formats and on-and off-premise ordering channels."

Related: 8 Worst Fast-Food Burgers to Stay Away From Right Now


Taco Bell, in particular, used to be one of the most inexpensive meal options in the fast-food industry. Last year, the chain announced it would be testing dollar menu items at select locations, including three new spicy beef tacos. 

Taco Bell raised prices by 10% between July 2020 and July 2021, an analysis by research advisors Gordon Haskett found. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. inflation was up 7% in December—the highest level in four decades. 

Yet, people are still making their way to these chains to get their fast-food fix. And it's not just Yum Brands' restaurants that are exploding in location numbers. McDonald's opened 650 new restaurants in 2021 and plans another 1,800 more for 2022, according to Business Insider

"Expectations of our customers, team members, and franchisees have forever changed due to the experiences over the past two years, and we continue to challenge ourselves to exceed their rising bar, " Gibbs added. "I'm confident we're poised to lead the industry as we embark on the next chapter of our growth journey."

If the location numbers for Yum Brands are any indication, the country's desire for quick and easy dining during the pandemic is at an all-time high. 

For more fast food news, check out 11 Secrets KFC Doesn't Want You To Know

Kristen Warfield
Kristen Warfield is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz’s journalism program in the Hudson Valley region of New York. Read more about Kristen
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