QSR Crowns McDonalds as Top Restaurant; Subway Follows a Close Second

McDonald’s, one of the most popular and leading fast food chains in the world, is trumping all others in the limited-service restaurant segment, QSR Magazine revealed in its yearly rundown of America’s 50 top-performing food brands.

In its recently released 2014 QSR 50 list, the leading business-to-business online magazine celebrates the success of players in the fast-casual dining, quick-service diners as well as pizza and snack shops, which comprise the $225 billion sector.

This year’s QSR 50 list is based on 2013 U.S. system-wide sales, for which McDonald’s lists $35.8 million and Subway reports $12.7 million. The 2013 U.S. average sales per unit for McDonald’s is at $2.5 million, while Subway’s is at $490,000.The QSR report revealed that as of 2013, McDonald’s had a total of 14, 278 franchised and company units. Subway, for its part, took the lead at 26,427.

The Top 10 on the list consists of Starbucks, Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Dunkin’ Donuts, Pizza Hut, Chick-fil-A and KFC.

In its comprehensive QSR 50 list and report divulging the current state of the fast food and restaurant brands, the magazine underscored how McDonald’s “had struggled to find consistency as the growing demand for premium products threatened to steal market share.”

Being the cultural icon that it is, McDonald’s growth as a business continues. However, big and budding competitors are posing a serious threat to their reign as the go-to quick-service diner for several decades. Consumers had not been too excited of new, added tricks to spice up the menu either. McDonald’s is certainly seeing the signs, prompting its executives to take a step toward potentially making some good changes to keep up with the times, play it well against the competition and find ways to make the market appreciate such efforts.

Second placer Subway, for its part, had done what it could over the past year to pay attention to consumer trends. Through its several activities that involved, engaged and drove the interest of customers, the largest restaurant chain worked hard at keeping up with the changes that happen quicker than they could have been anticipated.

QSR Magazine details the McDonald’s and Subway, which have made their way to the top and second highest in the 2014 list, respectively:


“McDonald’s [is being squeezed] between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, pressure is on to enhance food and service to compete with fast casuals; on the other, failed menu extensions seem to have proved that the brand might be better off sticking with the traditional burgers and fries value that made it so successful in the first place. Will customizable burgers, seasoned fries, a rejuvenated Ronald McDonald, a commitment to purchase more sustainable beef, and mobile ordering help find the right balance between the two? McDonald’s hopes so, as all have either been teased, tested, or tweeted this year as the company strives for something, anything, that will finally stick in today’s crowding industry playground.


Even Subway, the largest restaurant chain in the world and as sure a bet as there is when it comes to brand exposure, has twirled its toes in the pool of novelty, this year throwing some Fritos on a sandwich (the Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt) to see what happened and crashing New York Fashion Week with “Project Subway,” a contest to see what kind of outfits designers could come up with using only Subway packaging products.

Mostly, though, Subway has used the last year to fortify its position as a company committed to a healthy, active lifestyle. The brand expanded its athlete spokesperson campaign through a partnership with former soccer mega-star Pele, who will serve as a “global brand ambassador,” and it teamed up with First Lady Michelle Obama in her Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), which aims to improve childhood nutrition.

Photo by Jean Burgess

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