Special Report | August 2011 | By Sam Oches

The 2011 QSR 50

Page 3
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


Despite its closed-on-Sunday mantra, Chick-fil-A once again defied business odds and enjoyed another year of big-time success. While the Spicy Chicken Sandwich and Spicy Chicken Biscuit won rave reviews from the company’s consumers, it was the new expansion markets that signaled big things might be on the horizon for Chick-fil-A. For the first time ever, the Atlanta-based company entered Los Angeles and Chicago.

12/Domino’s Pizza

The 14.3 percent same-store sales increase in Q1 of 2010 that Domino’s experienced after rolling out its New and Improved pizza recipe was no fluke. The brand maintained that high throughout the year and ended 2010 with a year-over-year sales increase of 9.9 percent.

Just how did they do it? Mostly by sticking to the same transparent, humble message that made the new recipe such a success in the first place.

13/Panera Bread

Rather than push product innovation and fight against quick serves’ takeover of the breakfast and coffee spaces, the No. 1 fast casual tweaked its consumer touch points and customer service. Drive thrus and table service were both tested, calorie counts were added to menuboards systemwide, and a new loyalty program, MyPanera, tracks consumer habits to craft personalized promotions and special offers for each user.

The most innovative—and unusual—move Panera made in 2010 was to open the Panera Cares Community Café in suburban St. Louis, a unit that offers food for whatever price customers feel like paying.

While some deemed the café a gimmick and had no faith in its success, company executives are happy with its results—enough so to open two more of them, one in Michigan and one in Oregon, with plans for more.


New Arby’s president Hala Moddelmog had a big task when she joined the brand in May. Arby’s was coming off 2009 when sales had fallen $150 million and store counts had dropped by more than 150 units.

A new value menu struggled to take off, and not even Moddelmog could help the stagnant brand. Sales dropped another $200 million, while the net store count dropped by 69 units in 2010. Things turned from bad to worse early in 2011, even after Arby’s launched its “Good Mood Food” integrated marketing campaign, when Wendy’s announced Arby’s was up for sale. In June, the brand was purchased by private equity firm Roark Capital Group for $430 million.

15/Jack in the Box

The masters of advertising (the company won another gold Effie Award for its Jack campaign), Jack in the Box rolled out several new menu options in 2010, including a Breakfast Pita, Pastrami Grilled Sandwich, Really Big Chicken Sandwich, and a Grilled Chicken Sandwich. The company also provided a new value opportunity on its menu; customers could choose three items from a list of eight that included a Hamburger Deluxe, a small fountain drink, and french fries, and pay just $3.

Next: QSR 50 Profiles 16 - 20



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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