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Author Topic: Most dominant fast food chains in the US  (Read 1748 times)

briantroutman

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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #25 on: June 30, 2019, 03:08:01 PM »

Can pizza places be considered fast food?
Little Caesars has it down pretty well - $5 Hot n Readys during Lunch time

It’s probably worth noting that the Little Caesars Hot-N-Ready format—i.e., a very limited variety of popular items are pre-made in anticipation of predictable demand periods—is a lot closer to how much of the fast food industry operated 30+ years ago. Fast food used to be much faster...almost instant.

If you went into an ’80s McDonald’s around lunchtime, the chutes behind the counter would be preloaded with queues of standard-issue hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and Big Macs, all preconfigured with standard toppings, wrapped, and ready to go. After you paid, the counter worker would simply drop your order into a bag, fill your drink cup, and hand you your order. You’d be on your way in seconds (literally). But as a consequence, it wasn’t uncommon to see counter workers throw a dozen untouched burgers in the trash when a lunch hour wasn’t as busy as they’d anticipated.

Wendy’s, which was one of the earliest fast food chains to focus on a made-to-order operation, got a lot of mileage in commercials lampooning other chains’ pre-assembled food and the disruption caused when a customer dared to customize a burger.

Yes, Burger King frequently fell back on their on-again, off-again “Have It Your Way” campaign, but the reality is that bulk of the chain’s day-to-day operation also focused heavily on pre-made food until industry shifts in the ’90s made that approach passé.
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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #26 on: June 30, 2019, 04:25:20 PM »

Out of the top 10 only Wendy's and DQ don't have a presence in Spain. Of the other 8 only Dunkin doesn't have a presence in Aragon. Three are present in my hometown: McDonald's, Burger King and Domino's Pizza (it's still called that way in Spain), and local legend is that many eons ago there was a Pizza Hut.
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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #27 on: June 30, 2019, 10:15:03 PM »

Can pizza places be considered fast food?
Little Caesars has it down pretty well - $5 Hot n Readys during Lunch time

It’s probably worth noting that the Little Caesars Hot-N-Ready format—i.e., a very limited variety of popular items are pre-made in anticipation of predictable demand periods—is a lot closer to how much of the fast food industry operated 30+ years ago. Fast food used to be much faster...almost instant.

If you went into an ’80s McDonald’s around lunchtime, the chutes behind the counter would be preloaded with queues of standard-issue hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and Big Macs, all preconfigured with standard toppings, wrapped, and ready to go. After you paid, the counter worker would simply drop your order into a bag, fill your drink cup, and hand you your order. You’d be on your way in seconds (literally). But as a consequence, it wasn’t uncommon to see counter workers throw a dozen untouched burgers in the trash when a lunch hour wasn’t as busy as they’d anticipated.

Wendy’s, which was one of the earliest fast food chains to focus on a made-to-order operation, got a lot of mileage in commercials lampooning other chains’ pre-assembled food and the disruption caused when a customer dared to customize a burger.

Yes, Burger King frequently fell back on their on-again, off-again “Have It Your Way” campaign, but the reality is that bulk of the chain’s day-to-day operation also focused heavily on pre-made food until industry shifts in the ’90s made that approach passé.

BK still does this to an extent with “cheap” items like standard hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and chicken nuggets. But their company policy prohibits bigger ticket items like Whoppers from being queued up, as they use “made to order” as a selling point for those items.
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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #28 on: July 01, 2019, 10:19:43 AM »



1. Subway - Cheap to own, and has a lot of locations inside things like hospitals or even office parks.  Numbers are misleading.

2. McDonald’s - Yes.

3. Starbucks - Not fast food.  Again, a lot of "mini-locations", but overpriced coffee and pre-made baked goods for the pretentious do not a restaurant make.

4. Dunkin - Bigger selection than Starbucks, but is a donut shop "fast food"?

5. Pizza Hut - table service at most locations.  Made to order pizza, not fast food.

6. Burger King - yes

7. Taco Bell - Longtime Pepsico stockholder.  Back when companies used to actually mail you an annual report, one year there was a line about "Taco Bell prides itself in the lowest food cost in the industry."  Says all you need to know about the place.

8. Wendy’s - Yes.

9. Domino’s - Pizza delivery, which is mostly what Domino's is, is kind of a different category from "fast food". 

10. DQ - DQ is big in off the beaten path places.  It has some quirks that make the chain big.  For one thing, back 50 or 60 years ago, they sold franchises for little to nothing and as long as mom and pop pay a small fee, they can keep it, often still simple walk up locations.  For another, as I understand it, the food part was sold later and a lot of places either do not have food at all, or have their own food, in their own generic wrappers, selling only the franchised ice cream.  Texas is like one big franchise with its own food that is different from the rest of the country.  Outside Texas the company has been pushing for franchises to go to the "Grill and Chill" format, which is more like regular fast food, but there is no obligation to do so.

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roadman65

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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #29 on: July 01, 2019, 11:09:15 AM »

Since fast food tends to be a big topic here, I came across a list of the most dominant chains across the country, in terms of locations (franchise or company-owned). You can see the top 23 here, but I’ll post the top ten:

1. Subway
2. McDonald’s
3. Starbucks
4. Dunkin
5. Pizza Hut
6. Burger King
7. Taco Bell
8. Wendy’s
9. Domino’s
10. DQ

I wish the article had a top 25, but I digress. I’m not surprised Subway is #1 because they’re relatively cheap to own (some as little as $60K) and you can stick one in your closet. I’m rather surprised that DQ (Dairy Queen) is as high up. It doesn’t seem like there would be that many. Same with Jimmy John’s. I do wonder if Rally’s/Checkers and/or Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr would make the list if they used the same name.

Can Starbucks really be considered fast food?
  Pizza Hut depending on where?  In Florida they closed a lot of stores and did massive consolidation.  Far from dominant.

In Houma, LA there are none anymore as all the old Pizza Hut buildings are some other restaurant or business.   

In Lakeland, FL its McDonalds for sure as there are countless numbers of them.

I only wish Wataburger or Jack In The Box dominated the US, but unfortunately they both love only certain markets.  The former along the I-10 corridor from Texas to Florida and all over Texas while the latter is mainly west of the Mississippi River, with only some east of it.  Charlotte is the furthest east they have a store, but at one time on the east coast and pioneered the drive thru window for all that have it now.
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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #30 on: July 01, 2019, 12:44:03 PM »

I also disagree with pizza restaurants being included in the list. Also, Panera? Chipotle? Those are not fast food. Why would anything without a drive-thru be included? At least Starbucks (most of the time) and Dunkin have that going for them.
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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #31 on: July 01, 2019, 01:08:05 PM »

Concerning DQ, they picked up a lot of locations in Kentucky when they bought out the Druther's chain.
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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #32 on: July 01, 2019, 01:23:24 PM »

I also disagree with pizza restaurants being included in the list. Also, Panera? Chipotle? Those are not fast food. Why would anything without a drive-thru be included? At least Starbucks (most of the time) and Dunkin have that going for them.

Panera has been adding drive-thru locations, though it is more fast-casual (they're also going the way of McDonald's and phasing out cashiers).

9. Domino’s - Pizza delivery, which is mostly what Domino's is, is kind of a different category from "fast food".
They're branching out.  The menu now includes several non-pizza items, and newer locations even feature places to sit and eat.
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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #33 on: July 01, 2019, 02:09:44 PM »

I think people are getting a little hung up on the definition of fast food.  Understand that this magazine - QSR - is an abbreviation for Quick Service Restaurant.  The magazine itself has defined Quick Service to include most restaurants where you're not being served at a table and takeout has traditionally been offered.  In other words, they tend to report on Fast Food Restaurants, Fast Causal, Coffee Houses and Pizzerias.  They tend to skip more 'sit-down' type restaurants where table service is offered.  Pizza Hut is probably one of the few that cross these definitions, so they place it in the pizza category that most pizza places are known for (thus, quick serve).

Knowing that, this topic is simply one source's view of everything.  When we start debating the relevance of Dominos to McDonalds to Chick-fil-a, it's missing the big picture of this magazine's value to the industry. 

Other magazines and analysists may have different definitions and surveys and lists.
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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #34 on: July 01, 2019, 04:36:33 PM »

I’m rather surprised that DQ (Dairy Queen) is as high up. It doesn’t seem like there would be that many.

DQ has a Subway-like presence in parts of the Midwest; many of the dinkiest towns have one, even if it’s just a stand and not a full-size store.

Indeed.  I consider the "small town trinity" of fast food in the Midwest/Great Plains to be Subway, Sonic, and DQ.  Drive through Texas, and near every town has a DQ and/or Sonic.
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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #35 on: July 01, 2019, 06:25:21 PM »

I’m rather surprised that DQ (Dairy Queen) is as high up. It doesn’t seem like there would be that many.

DQ has a Subway-like presence in parts of the Midwest; many of the dinkiest towns have one, even if it’s just a stand and not a full-size store.

Indeed.  I consider the "small town trinity" of fast food in the Midwest/Great Plains to be Subway, Sonic, and DQ.  Drive through Texas, and near every town has a DQ and/or Sonic.

Sonic also has competition primarily in Mississippi with Bumpers Drive In.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2019, 06:27:24 PM by golden eagle »
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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #36 on: July 01, 2019, 06:42:48 PM »

Remember when A&W was a major presence?  One of my jobs after high school and before joining the USAF was at an A&W.  Wage: $1.25 an hour and a meal.  Believe me, I ate a lot and loved every bite!  Same for being able to drink all that great root beer too.

Today there are few around but one can still see plenty of former A&W's (due to the unique roof structure) which were repurposed. 

Rick

Every KFC in the Boise area (from Boise to Caldwell and even Ontario) is a combination with A&W. I used to be a fan of A&W, but even just in the past few years, they seem to have gone downhill. Last couple times, the fries have been stale and many of them burnt, and also seem like they've been sitting out a while. The burgers are still decent. Had a shake last time, was also not impressed compared to something like Sonic or McDonald's (and it was more expensive).

That said, A&W in Canada (a completely different chain) is really good, nothing like the US version. A bit more expensive, but the quality is noticeably better. I'll definitely make a point to go there every time I'm in Canada.

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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #37 on: July 01, 2019, 10:01:50 PM »

Back when I did the cooking at an A&W, one of our items was a Dixie Dog.  We had a large milkshake container with batter inside.  A stick would be inserted into the hot dog.  The hot dog would be inserted into the batter and spun a bit.  The coated hot dog was then placed into a deep fat fryer.  Those were the days we did not have to rely upon boxes of frozen corn dogs so you got a genuine fresh product made by hand.

All hamburger patties were made by hand too.  Papa Burger, Mama Burger, Teen Burger, Baby Burger, all far better than what one gets at most fast food places today. 

Rick
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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #38 on: July 02, 2019, 09:22:08 AM »

To me fast food is one without servers bringing your food out, but even Red Lobster and IHOP is considered fast food in the proeffessional world.    Even though going to Dennys on the graveyard counts as Fast Food despite the service is much slower then do to lower quality help and placing one server in the entire dining room all night long to cause the slowdown.

Just like we all cannot agree with where Upstate NY begins in another thread, so we cannot here, but its what the industry considers to be fast food and anything not fine dining is called fast food believe it or not.  I worked in the food industry so I know the actual terminology of the word.
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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #39 on: July 02, 2019, 09:43:50 AM »

Sort of related: fellow roadgeek Stephen Anderson (nycroads) is a Senior VP and Equity Research Analyst at Maxim Group, covering various fast food and fast casual restaurants.
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nexus73

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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #40 on: July 02, 2019, 03:23:58 PM »

To me fast food is one without servers bringing your food out, but even Red Lobster and IHOP is considered fast food in the proeffessional world.    Even though going to Dennys on the graveyard counts as Fast Food despite the service is much slower then do to lower quality help and placing one server in the entire dining room all night long to cause the slowdown.

Just like we all cannot agree with where Upstate NY begins in another thread, so we cannot here, but its what the industry considers to be fast food and anything not fine dining is called fast food believe it or not.  I worked in the food industry so I know the actual terminology of the word.

In the fishing industry, live fish are called live fish but dead fish are called fresh fish.  50 miles south of me is Port Orford, where fish, live and "fresh" are shipped off to the SF Bay Area in large water filled containers that are oxygenated.  That is where I learned the meaning of "fresh".

Funny isn't it how word twisters manage to scramble up what plain speaking exposes.

"He's dead Jim!". 

Rick
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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #41 on: July 02, 2019, 04:23:57 PM »

I also disagree with pizza restaurants being included in the list. Also, Panera? Chipotle? Those are not fast food. Why would anything without a drive-thru be included? At least Starbucks (most of the time) and Dunkin have that going for them.

Just heard that a local Chipotle is getting a pick-up lane - called "Chipotlane", but it's to pick up online orders only - you can't just pull up and order.  I believe this is a trial location; there may be others.
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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #42 on: July 02, 2019, 04:28:13 PM »

To me fast food is one without servers bringing your food out, but even Red Lobster and IHOP is considered fast food in the proeffessional world.    Even though going to Dennys on the graveyard counts as Fast Food despite the service is much slower then do to lower quality help and placing one server in the entire dining room all night long to cause the slowdown.

Just like we all cannot agree with where Upstate NY begins in another thread, so we cannot here, but its what the industry considers to be fast food and anything not fine dining is called fast food believe it or not.  I worked in the food industry so I know the actual terminology of the word.

Where have you seen Red Lobster being called fast food?
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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #43 on: July 02, 2019, 11:20:33 PM »

10. DQ - DQ is big in off the beaten path places.  It has some quirks that make the chain big.  For one thing, back 50 or 60 years ago, they sold franchises for little to nothing and as long as mom and pop pay a small fee, they can keep it, often still simple walk up locations.  For another, as I understand it, the food part was sold later and a lot of places either do not have food at all, or have their own food, in their own generic wrappers, selling only the franchised ice cream.  Texas is like one big franchise with its own food that is different from the rest of the country.  Outside Texas the company has been pushing for franchises to go to the "Grill and Chill" format, which is more like regular fast food, but there is no obligation to do so.

I've only seen three "Grill and Chill" type locations in Michigan (Holland, Stevensville, Ypsilanti (Washtenaw Ave) [bonus points: Ypsilanti is an old-style Brazier location]).
There are still lots of walk-up/drive-thru (if you're lucky) DQs in cities throughout Michigan (the Manistee location dates back to the early 1950s and has a drive-thru that has to be one of the tightest ones I've seen). Some of the walk-up DQs have a limited sandwich selection, while some have ice cream only.
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nexus73

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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #44 on: July 03, 2019, 08:26:11 AM »

10. DQ - DQ is big in off the beaten path places.  It has some quirks that make the chain big.  For one thing, back 50 or 60 years ago, they sold franchises for little to nothing and as long as mom and pop pay a small fee, they can keep it, often still simple walk up locations.  For another, as I understand it, the food part was sold later and a lot of places either do not have food at all, or have their own food, in their own generic wrappers, selling only the franchised ice cream.  Texas is like one big franchise with its own food that is different from the rest of the country.  Outside Texas the company has been pushing for franchises to go to the "Grill and Chill" format, which is more like regular fast food, but there is no obligation to do so.

I've only seen three "Grill and Chill" type locations in Michigan (Holland, Stevensville, Ypsilanti (Washtenaw Ave) [bonus points: Ypsilanti is an old-style Brazier location]).
There are still lots of walk-up/drive-thru (if you're lucky) DQs in cities throughout Michigan (the Manistee location dates back to the early 1950s and has a drive-thru that has to be one of the tightest ones I've seen). Some of the walk-up DQs have a limited sandwich selection, while some have ice cream only.

The former Dairy Queen in North Bend began as a walkup.  Back then a Giantburger was 75 cents and my favorite.  It was torn down and turned into a nice sitdown place in the Seventies.  Now it is an indie burger stand.

North of here in Lakeside the largest DQ in Oregon was built.  It had a room full of pinball and video games.  What should have become the entertainment center for people up in that small town instead wound up closing down due to so little business.  Color me puzzled on that one!

Two DQ's remain in this area.  One is in downtown Coos Bay.  The other sits alongside SR 540, the Cape Arago Highway, halfway between the Empire district and Charleston, all by its lonesome.  Both are dine-ins with drive-thrus.

Rick
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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #45 on: July 03, 2019, 08:46:02 AM »


10. DQ

 I’m rather surprised that DQ (Dairy Queen) is as high up. It doesn’t seem like there would be that many.

Back in the 80's my dad wanted to start a DQ franchise in Joliet, IL.  At the time, there was only one DQ in town, and that was on the east side on Washington street (Ironic that there was only one DQ in the town where DQ had its first restaurant.)  Dad got rejected because the district manager also owned all the franchises for the Joliet / Kankakee area, and of course he didn't want competition.  At least that's how I remembered the situation.

EDIT:  Joliet IL had the first DQ Restaurant, but the ice cream was first served in Kankakee, IL
« Last Edit: July 03, 2019, 08:59:24 AM by inkyatari »
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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #46 on: July 03, 2019, 08:50:24 AM »

I've always imagined the "playing cards of fast food" to be Burger King, Dairy Queen, and Jack in the Box.
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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #47 on: July 03, 2019, 08:52:18 AM »

Remember when A&W was a major presence?  One of my jobs after high school and before joining the USAF was at an A&W.  Wage: $1.25 an hour and a meal.  Believe me, I ate a lot and loved every bite!  Same for being able to drink all that great root beer too.

Today there are few around but one can still see plenty of former A&W's (due to the unique roof structure) which were repurposed. 

Rick

In the late 80's / early 90's A&W corporate (Taubman Investment Corp at the time,) had three corporate restaurants that shared management. Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, Louis Joliet Mall, Joliet, IL, and some mall in Terre Haute, IN.  They were wanting to get away from traditional locations and go into cheaper to start mall stores.  I was a shift manager at the Louis Joliet Mall location for several years.  Got fired by a cokehead manager, then re-hired a few months later by the district manager.  Early on, to drum up business, we handed out coupons that read "redeem for one free medium mug of root beer." These were brought to us from the Woodfield location that was a sit down restaurant, vs. us and Terre Haute which were food court locations.  One time we had a guy come to our store irate that he was served root beer in a paper cup. I totally understood, but there was nothing we could do, unless he wanted to buy a glass mug to take home (we sold those as souvenirs.)  I don't remember how we resolved the issue.

There's still an original A&W franchise in North Aurora, IL. One time at the LJM location, we ran out of curly fries, so I had to drive over there to "borrow" some from them.  Good times.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2019, 09:12:16 AM by inkyatari »
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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #48 on: July 03, 2019, 08:54:34 AM »

I've always imagined the "playing cards of fast food" to be Burger King, Dairy Queen, and Jack in the Box.

Last experience with a Jack in the Box (Haven't had any in my part of Illinois since the one in downtown Joliet closed in the late 70's / early 80's) was in Mesa , AZ in 2014.  We went through the drive through, ordered a bunch of burgers.. And my wife's sandwich had no meat.  We all thought that was funny, went in, had a laugh with the counter people, and they replaced it without problem.
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I'm never wrong, just wildly inaccurate.

Rothman

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Re: Most dominant fast food chains in the US
« Reply #49 on: July 03, 2019, 09:01:18 AM »

After experiencing the dearth of donuts in mid-1990s Russia, I wanted to open a Dunkin Donuts there.  Someone beat me to it.
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