Special Report | August 2011 | By Sam Oches

The 2011 QSR 50

Page 4
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

16/Dairy Queen

The biggest dessert player in the quick-serve industry offered a new way for customers to experience its massively popular Blizzard when it rolled out the Mini Blizzard in April 2010. The new treat was the center of attention as DQ celebrated its 25th anniversary in style, driving a food truck around the country and handing out free Mini Blizzards.

Meanwhile, new integrated marketing campaigns featuring a family of DQ fanatics (the Blizzmans), and a humorous new pitchman resonated well with the coveted young male demographic.

17/Papa John’s

Plenty of quick serves invest marketing dollars into sports, but Papa John’s really depends on it. The pizza company became the Official Pizza Sponsor of the Super Bowl in 2010 and followed that with several one-off sports promotions that delivered its pies to hungry fans. A new iPhone app and increased online ordering are helping the brand become more accessible to its younger clientele, too.


Chipotle marked its 1,000th store opening in 2010 and celebrated a growth of $300 million in sales over 2009. A marketing push behind the company’s long-time slogan, “Food With Integrity,” helped take advantage of an increasingly eco-conscious consumer base, a move spokesman Chris Arnold says will continue into 2011.

CEO Steve Ells’ exposure on the NBC show “America’s Next Great Restaurant,” meanwhile, shouldn’t hurt the brand. And experiments with the Shophouse Southeast Asian Kitchen concept, which is set to open its first store in Washington, D.C., in 2011, should continue to give Chipotle good buzz.


Hardee’s focused much of its 2010 innovation on its popular Made from Scratch biscuits, with several new biscuit breakfast dishes, like the Country Fried Steak ‘N’ Gravy biscuit. Fried chicken, another Southern mainstay, also reappeared on the menu in the form of Hand Breaded Chicken Tenders, which customers could order alone or in a Chicken Tender Wrap.

Of course, no year for Hardee’s would be complete without another big burger addition. For 2010 it was the Texas Toast Bacon Cheese Thickburger. Imagine the surprise of customers when Hardee’s and sister brand Carl’s Jr. launched a Turkey Burger in the spring of 2011.

20/Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

On August 25, 2010, Times Square passersby may have thought New Years had come early, as a celebratory crowd had collected there. Instead, a group of Popeyes staffers and fans had gathered to celebrate a taste test that favored the company’s Spicy and Mild Bonafide chicken over KFC’s Original Recipe. The Bonafide chicken, as well as the new Wicked Chicken, helped the brand to net unit and sales increases as it settled into its “Louisiana Kitchen” moniker.

Next: QSR 50 Profiles 21 - 25



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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