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These Are The Only 4 Restaurant Chains Making Money During the Pandemic

COVID-19 has ravaged the restaurant industry, but these national chains have managed to endure.

We've already seen and heard just how much stay at home orders and self-quarantines designed to limit the COVID-19 outbreak have ravaged the restaurant and foodservice industries.

According to the National Restaurant Association, 15.6 million people in the U.S. are restaurant industry employees—aka about 10 percent of the workforce. Unable to withstand growing debt as a result of trying to keep their businesses afloat and their employees on the payroll, many local restaurant owners have sadly closed shop for good, with many more likely to shutter in the coming weeks.

According to a report by the restaurant industry outlet National Restaurant News, there are only FOUR national chains that are making money amidst this global pandemic. To find this, NRN considered the earnings from publicly-traded Top 200 companies that were reported at the end of March, as well as what some companies have indicated they would be earning in the near future.

Despite the current health and economic crises, the following four national chains have remained in the black. What each has in common is "a heavy emphasis on digital infrastructure and/or store locations equipped with drive-thrus," reports NRN. Click through our gallery to see which chains they are, and to stay informed, sign up for our newsletter to get the latest coronavirus foods news delivered straight to your inbox.



The Texas-based wing chain founded in the early 1990s went national over the past two decades, and is one of the few fortunate chains to draw a profit in the first quarter in 2020. According to NRN:

Wingstop, which in recent years worked to build and refine its mobile ordering infrastructure and delivery presence, found itself well-positioned to quickly pivot to a delivery and takeout model. As a result, its domestic system reported a 9.9% comps increase for the quarter ended March 28, which was actually an improvement over the 7.1% increase in the same quarter a year ago.

Related: Best and Worst Menu Items to Order at Wingstop

Papa John's

Papa john's pizza restaurant
Nolichuckyjake / Shutterstock

People are coping with the coronavirus by eating comfort food and ordering in. So, there's no mystery why Papa John's has thrived in the first quarter of 2020. "Pizza delivery specialists also fared relatively well," explained NRN. "Papa John's reported a same-store sales bump of 5.3% in the U.S., and 2.3% internationally for the quarter ended March 29."

Related: Best and Worst Papa John's Menu Items to Order



Domino's was among the first national restaurant chain to launch a robust smartphone app,  and as a result, saw a 1.6% increase in domestic same-store sales in the first quarter of 2020. NRN points out, however, that "those figures marked significantly slowed growth for Domino's, but were nonetheless strong relatively to brands in other segments."

Related: Check out our list of the best and Worst Dominos Menu Items to Order


the mcdonalds golden arches set against a bluebird sky
Bubbers BB/Shutterstock

Does it surprise anyone that McDonald's made the list? Probably not. But it might surprise you that, according to NRN, the massive fast-food chain "barely squeaked onto the black side of the ledger with a reported first-quarter increase of 0.1%, compared with 4.5% growth in the same year-earlier quarter." While they are doing decent business, there are menu items you can't order at McDonald's right now due to coronavirus.

READ MORE: 9 Worst Grocery Store Chains to Shop at During the Pandemic

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.