Special Report | August 2011 | By Sam Oches

The 2011 QSR 50

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The QSR 50 highlights the top fast food companies in the nation.
image used with permission.

Download Last Year’s QSR 50 in PDF Format

6/Taco Bell

Value continued to be the name of the game at Taco Bell, even as most chains pulled back on the deep discounting that became so popular during the recession. The home of 89- and 99-cent burritos followed the quick-serve stampede to the $5 price point, adding its $5-Buck Box to the menu.

CEO Greg Creed says the company will push into the healthy arena by lowering its sodium by 33 percent across its menu in 2011, while maintaining its long-standing focus of giving customers more bang for their buck. Plans are also in place to improve the ambience of units by installing new furniture packages and providing free WiFi access.

7/Dunkin’ Donuts

Egg White Wraps, Pancake Bites, Bagel Twists, and Waffle Sandwiches all appeared on the Dunkin’ Donuts menu in 2010 as the coffee-and-doughnuts concept continued to expand its breakfast offerings.

The company maintained strong expansion numbers as it pushed into new markets and boasted 206 more units at year’s end than the year before. This growth might have been a big reason parent company Dunkin’ Brands decided to finally go public in May 2011.

8/Pizza Hut

Pizza category leader Pizza Hut’s $10 Any Pizza deal failed to make the $10 price point magic for consumers. The Yum! Brands concept retooled its pricing strategy in mid-2010 by slapping an $8 tag on medium pizzas with up to three toppings and $10 on large pizzas with up to three toppings, plus $2 more for specialty pies.

Although growth was relatively stagnant and unit counts dropped, at least one sales number certainly impressed in 2010—the company announced that it expected more than $2 billion in online sales for the year.


Bacon and cheese sandwiched between two chicken breasts may not have been a dream menu item for our quick-serve forefathers, but KFC made it a reality in 2010.

The Double Down was one of the most buzzed-about menu items out of the fast food industry in years. Although it did move about 10 million sandwiches in a month, it ultimately failed to take root as a popular menu option. KFC instead turned to another new sandwich, the Doublicious, and additional grilled items, like the Fiery Grilled Wings, to drum up some buzz with customers.


A Footlong Quarter Pound Coney and Real Ice Cream treats were added to Sonic’s menu in 2010, but the Oklahoma-based concept couldn’t stop sliding sales, which dropped more than $200 million from 2009 to 2010. A new chief marketing officer, Danielle Vona, joined the company from PepsiCo, where she was vice president of marketing, in hopes to boost the brand’s exposure.

Next: QSR 50 Profiles 11 - 15



I pains me that we celebrate the "success" of restaurants that sell food that makes the world so unhealthy. I can't wait for the day that fast food outlets start going out of business to be replaced by quick serve restaurants that serve only healthy and nutritious food.

It pains you to see a industry succeed. That is so ridiculous in these times.It's just like the early '90s and Outback Steakhouse was going crazy selling those horrible Steaks and Bloomin Onions and other non PC foods. No one was forcing people to buy their product. People buy what they want and the ones that are trying to force stuff that they don't like on them will get some PC sales for a period of time but will end up a vague memory just like De'Lites. The fact that most of you don't remember them proves my point.Let people do what they want. They will anyway, this is the USA.

In this wonderful United StatesIn 1958 approximately one meal in five were eaten in Restaurants. Through the years restaurants of all kinds have exploded in numbers. Today six and a half of ten meals are eaten in Restaurants. In 1958 life expectance was about sixty five years. Today life expectance is over 78 years. Has medicine inproved so much that it has kept us alive in spit of your claim of unhealthy food or have Restaurants offered healthier nutritious foods with unlimited choices and high sanitary standards that has contributed to the increase of life expectance in the US?As for obesity Americans have more spendable income today then ever before and food prices in Restaurants are very low. Im sorry if you are unable to do the math, blame your teacher.Remember Freedom of choice is my mine, don't tell me how to live my life.

Your comment reminds me of the back drop of a movie I once saw - Demolition Man. If you recall the reason the bad guy was let out of prison was because people wanted freedom of choice and the establishment was willing to do anything to stop them in the name of "protecting them from themselves". The only restaurant that was left was Taco Bell and the was by name only, for they did not sell anything that resemble a taco. I say no thanks to that life style. If I were you I would watch that movie again and truly ask myself if I would really want to live in a world like that or would I rather have the freedom to make the right choices for myself and my family.

Just because you were once obese or have food issues doesn't mean I did or I do. I am perfectly healthy, run 4 times a week and enjoy a burger now and then.

Take pride Healthy Guy, but don't waste your time trying to educate people who are unwilling or unable to face the facts. Let them eat cake, and let them get diabetes, heart disease, and the rest. Why should you care?!?

And oh yeah, let's not forget the slave wages. But Americans are descendants of slave masters so that won't concern the average American either. Go al-Qaeda!

hi,Im looking for a nice and famouse restaurant and coffeeshop brand for my restaurant in Iran , could you please give me your suggestion ?thanks

Hi Leyla,I prefer Chipotle, they use natural meats and sometimes organic beans and rice. If Mexican food is unpopular in Iran, Panera Bread is also on the healthier side, serving sandwiches, soups and salads. Good luck!-Morgan

Noon Biar, Kabab Berbar, sounds nice for your restaurant, if you also open a Noon bakery right beside your restataurant. That way you hit two birds with one stone!

I am looking for a VP of R & D for an International QSR company. Give me a ring if you know anyone. 615-499-5463.


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