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  • America's 25 Most Lucrative Fast-Food Chains

    Fast Food October 30, 2018 By Rachel Taylor
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    McDonald's

    When it comes to total sales, nobody holds a candle to McDonald's. The fast-food behemoth, in 2017, reported $37,480.67 (in millions) across its 14,000 domestic units—more than double its nearest competitor. That’s just one of the eye-opening reminders found on this year’s QSR 50, which annually breaks down the quick-service landscape according to its most-telling metrics: Unit count, sales, average-unit volume, and more.

    Here’s a look at where the top-earning restaurants in America stack up by total systemwide sales.

    Note: These figures reflect end of year fiscal 2017 results.

    McDonald's in Cary, North Carolina.
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    McDonald's

    1. McDonald’s

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $37,480.67

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $2,670.32

    Unit count: 14,036

    Franchised stores: 13,194

    Company stores: 842

    Total change in units from 2016: –119

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

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    Starbucks

    2. Starbucks

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $13,167.61

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $945.27

    Unit count: 13,930

    Franchised stores: 5,708

    Company stores: 8,222

    Total change in units from 2016: 758

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

    S Choice mark at Subway.
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    Subway

    3. Subway

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $10,800.00

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $416.86

    Unit count: 25,908

    Franchised stores: 25,908

    Company stores: 0

    Total change in units from 2016: –866

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

    Burger King's popular breakfast menu is the center of a lawsuit recently settled by the fast-food company.
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    flickr: Mike Mozart

    4. Burger King

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $10,028.32

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $1,387.81

    Unit count: 7,226

    Franchised stores: 7,176

    Company stores: 50

    Total change in units from 2016: 70

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

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    Taco Bell

    5. Taco Bell

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $9,790.15

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $1,500.00

    Unit count: 6,446

    Franchised stores: 5,799

    Company stores: 647

    Total change in units from 2016: 168

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

    Wendy’s new Southwest Avocado Chicken Salad & Sandwich.
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    Wendy's

    6. Wendy’s

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $9,288.09

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $1,610.00

    Unit count: 5,769

    Franchised stores: 5,432

    Company stores: 337

    Total change in units from 2016: 30

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

    A workes pours nitro cold brew from a tap at Dunkin' Donuts new restaurant deisgn in Massachusetts.
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    Dunkin' Donuts

    7. Dunkin' Donuts

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $9,192.00

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $733.13

    Unit count: 12,538

    Franchised stores: 12,538

    Company stores: 0

    Total change in units from 2016: 280

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

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    Chick-fil-A

    8. Chick-fil-A

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $9,000.00

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $4,090.90

    Unit count: 2,225

    Franchised stores: 1,882

    Company stores: 343

    Total change in units from 2016: 140

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

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    Domino's

    9. Domino’s

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $5,900.00

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $1,000.00

    Unit count: 5,587

    Franchised stores: 5,195

    Company stores: 392

    Total change in units from 2016: 216

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

    Pizza Hut pizza and wings.
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    Pizza Hut

    10. Pizza Hut

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $5,510.84

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $900.00

    Unit count: 7,522

    Franchised stores: 7,426

    Company stores: 96

    Total change in units from 2016: –167

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

     

    Panera Bread.
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    flickr: Mike Mozart

    11. Panera

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $5,503.64

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $2,693.90

    Unit count: 2,043

    Franchised stores: 1,112

    Company stores: 931

    Total change in units from 2016: 43

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

    Chipotle burrito in a red basket.
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    Chipotle

    12. Chipotle

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $4,476.41

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $1,940.00

    Unit count: 2,371

    Franchised stores: 0

    Company stores: 2,371

    Total change in units from 2016: 173

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

    KFC restaurant from the front.
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    KFC

    13. KFC

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $4,417.05

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $1,200.00

    Unit count: 4,109

    Franchised stores: 4,055

    Company stores: 54

    Total change in units from 2016: –58

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

    Sonic Drive-In with car parked out front.
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    flickr: Mike Mozart

    14. Sonic Drive-In

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $4,408.16

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $1,250.00

    Unit count: 3,593         

    Franchised stores: 3,365

    Company stores: 228

    Total change in units from 2016: 66

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

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    Dairy Queen

    15. Dairy Queen

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $3,640.00

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $1,269.75

    Unit count: 4,455

    Franchised stores: 4,453

    Company stores: 2

    Total change in units from 2016: –62

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

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    Arby's

    16. Arby’s

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $3,634.00

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $1,130.00

    Unit count: 3,415

    Franchised stores: 2,340

    Company stores: 1,075

    Total change in units from 2016: 57

    Read more in the QSR 50 here

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    flickr: Mike Mozart

    17. Little Caesars

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $3,530.58

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $815.00

    Unit count: 4,332

    Franchised stores: 3,797

    Company stores: 535

    Total change in units from 2016: 8

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

    Jack in the Box restaurant seen at night.
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    flickr: Thomas Hawk

    18. Jack in the Box

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $3,469.17

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $1,543.00

    Unit count: 2,251

    Franchised stores: 1,975

    Company stores: 276

    Total change in units from 2016: –4

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

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    Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

    19. Popeyes

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $3,213.06

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $1,440.19

    Unit count: 2,231

    Franchised stores: 2,178

    Company stores: 53

    Total change in units from 2016: 147

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

     

    Papa John's logo with a half moon in the background.
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    Mr. Blue MauMau

    20. Papa John's

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $3,209.30

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $968.45

    Unit count: 3,314

    Franchised stores: 2,606

    Company stores: 708

    Total change in units from 2016: –127

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

    Panda Express has a new chicken dish for the Chinese New Year.
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    Panda Express

    21. Panda Express

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $3,114.80

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $1,641.00

    Unit count: 2,011

    Franchised stores: 113

    Company stores: 1,898

    Total change in units from 2016: 118

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

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    Whataburger

    22. Whataburger

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $2278.62

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $2,775.43

    Unit count: 821

    Franchised stores: 124

    Company stores: 697

    Total change in units from 2016: 15

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

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    Hardee's

    23. Hardee’s

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $2,168.00

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $1,164.00

    Unit count: 1,864

    Franchised stores: 1,745

    Company stores: 119

    Total change in units from 2016: 16

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

    Jimmy John's 16-inch sandwich.
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    Jimmy John's

    24. Jimmy John's

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $2,139.62

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $796.97

    Unit count: 2,755

    Franchised stores: 2,700

    Company stores: 55

    Total change in units from 2016: 108

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.

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    Zaxby's

    25. Zaxby’s

    U.S. systemwide sales (millions): $2,091.50

    Average sales per unit (thousands): $2,350.00

    Unit count: 890

    Franchised stores: 890

    Company stores: 0

    Total change in units from 2016: 74

    Read more in the QSR 50 here.