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Fast food brands in the U.S.

Fast food restaurants, otherwise known as quick service restaurants (QSRs) or limited service restaurants (LSRs), are establishments that typically serve food quickly and do not provide table service. Variations on the quick service concept mainly consist of fast casual restaurants, food trucks, kiosks, and smaller hole-in-the-wall establishments. The United States is undeniably the founder of modern-day quick service restaurant chains. In the U.S., all states are home to QSRs’ – in 2019, California accounted for highest number of QSRs, while the least populous state, Wyoming, accounted for the least. Meanwhile, the quick service restaurant industry’s revenue in the U.S. reached a sum of approximately 239 billion U.S. dollars in 2020.

QSR industry leaders in the U.S.

While the U.S. fast food landscape has been inundated by new concepts over the past decade, well-established U.S.-based QSR brands have continued to grow. Although the U.S. market may be becoming saturated, household brands such as McDonalds show no signs of slowing their growth, expanding their reach to international locations. With a brand value of over 129 billion U.S. dollars, McDonald’s was by far the most valuable fast food brand in the world in 2019 and 2020, surpassing its closest competitor Starbucks by almost triple. In 2019, McDonald’s was also the largest fast food company in terms of systemwide sales, followed by brands such as Starbucks, Subway, and Yum! Brands - parent company of Taco Bell, KFC & Pizza Hut.

Types of QSR restaurants in the U.S.

Although burger restaurants like McDonald’s are the most typically associated with the U.S. quick service restaurant market, sandwich/deli restaurants such as leading quick service restaurant chain Subway are also popular choices for consumers. The market size of the U.S. sandwich and sub store franchise sector reached nearly 25 billion U.S. dollars in 2019. The same year, Subway led the U.S. market in terms of total units with over 23 and a half thousand establishments in the U.S. alone. Chasing Subway’s heels was Starbucks with just over half the number of units than that of the sandwich chain. While McDonald’s had the top spot when it came to sales, it came in third place in terms of U.S. units, focusing less on its home nation and instead on expansion abroad.

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