In the fast-evolving limited-service restaurant industry, some things are a given. McDonald’s wins the day, and it’s not even close. Chick-fil-A’s restaurants make beaucoup bucks. And Subway’s eye-popping unit count dwarfs pretty much every other company in the space.
But in other ways, this industry is the Wild West, with fierce competition leading to an unpredictable roller-coaster ride for most quick-serve and fast-casual brands. One year, you could be riding high on a successful new menu item or marketing strategy; the next, a boneheaded executive comment or disastrous value deal could bring your sales momentum to a sputtering stop.
Thankfully, we’re here to document it all—the rises, the falls, and the truly unpredictable. Read on to find out which 50 limited-service companies did enough to land a spot among the industry’s elite.