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The top 50 chain restaurants in the United States 2014

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The nation’s top performing chain restaurants of the year has just been published by QSR Magazine and reported upon by the Chicago Tribune on Monday. QSR is the country’s leading trade publication of the ‘quick service’ restaurant industry. The much-anticipated list, referred to as the QSR 50, is of great interest – not only to quick-dining aficionados – but to those inside the industry as well as those who simply have interest in which eateries are doing best in current times.

The top ten on the list have remained the same since last year. Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald’s leads the list with a total sales of over $35.8 billion in sales last year. Subway, number two, has the most restaurant units. Quite incredibly, there are 26,427 Subways across the nation. That total is higher than the total number of McDonald’s and Starbucks – which is number 3 on the list - combined.

The report reveals that only two restaurant chains listed in the top 10 had a decrease in sales from the previous year’s data. Burger King and KFC – number 5 and number 10 respectively in the top 10 – were the restaurant chains that fell short from its previous year’s figures.

While the list remained basically stagnant near the top, the first notable upward move on the list is Domino’s Pizza. Last year, Domino’s Pizza ranked number 13. This year, it moved up to a tie with Sonic Drive-In for the number 12 position on this year’s list. One may recall that Domino’s Pizza admitted that its pizza was no good just four years ago – and they promised to start over with a brand new recipe. Since that shocking assertion, Domino’s Pizza has continued to increase its number of stores throughout the United States as well as its nationwide sales.

Top 50 restaurant chains in 2014

1 McDonald’s

2 Subway

3 Starbucks

4 Wendy’s

5 Burger King

6 Taco Bell

7 Dunkin’ Donuts

8 Pizza Hut

9 Chick-fil-A

10 KFC

11 Panera Bread

12 Domino’s Pizza

13 Sonic Drive-In

14 Carl’s Jr./Hardees

15 Chipotle

16 Jack in the Box

17 Arby’s

18 Little Caesars

19 Dairy Queen

20 and 21 not listed

22 Panda Express

23 Whataburger

24 Jimmy John’s

25 Five Guys Burgers & Fries

26 Zaxby’s

27 Bojangles’

28 Culver’s

29 Steak ‘n Shake

30 Church’s Chicken

31 Papa Murphy’s

32 Checkers/Rally’s

33 Long John Silver’s

34 Krispy Kreme

35 Del Taco

36 White Castle

37 El Pollo Loco

38 Quiznos

39 Boston Market

40 Qboda Mexican Grill

41 Tim Hortons

42 Jason’s Deli

43 Einstein Bros. Bagels

44 In-N-Out Burger

45 Wingstop

46 Baskin-Robbins

47 Jamba Juice

48 Moe’s Southwest Grill

49 Captain D’s

50 McAlister’s Deli

Other noteworthy comments from QSR regarding the figures include that no other quick-service limited-time offer has created more good publicity for a business as Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger. The new offering at Wendy’s came available in July 2013. The item is credited with increasing its traffic.

Also of note, Chick-fil-A has now defeated KFC in the chicken restaurants for a second year in a row. Biggest decliners of the year include Quizno’s which fell from number 26 to number 32. One of the biggest gainers on the list is Einstein Bros. Bagels which moved from number 51 last year to number 43 this year. Incidentally, there are only 48 restaurants listed on QSR's top 50 list as there were no number 20 and 21. .

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