While 2016 was a rough year for chain restaurants, more than half of the industry’s $521.9 billion still comes from the Top 500 chains—and nearly 94% of those dollars and 93% of those units are represented in the Top 250. Here, we rank those concepts by U.S. systemwide sales and dive into Technomic’s Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report with insights from the wins and losses of these giants.
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TOP 250: THE RANKING

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Ranksort descending Chain 2016 US Sales ($000) Change from 2015 2016 US Units Change from 2015 Segment Menu Category
1 McDonald's $36,389,000 14,155 Quick Service Burger
2 Starbucks $14,673,400* 13,172 Quick Service Coffee Cafe
3 Subway $11,300,000 26,744 Quick Service Sandwich
4 Burger King $9,430,100* 7,161 Quick Service Burger
5 Taco Bell $9,353,772 6,278 Quick Service Mexican
6 Wendy's $8,963,600* 5,739 Quick Service Burger
7 Dunkin' Donuts $8,226,100 8,828 Quick Service Coffee Cafe
8 Chick-fil-A $6,743,000* 2,062* Quick Service Chicken
9 Pizza Hut $5,751,381 7,689 Quick Service Pizza
10 Domino's $5,479,000* 5,371 Quick Service Pizza
11 Panera Bread/Saint Louis Bread Co. $5,132,000 2,017 Fast Casual Bakery Cafe
12 Sonic Drive-In $4,518,098 3,557 Quick Service Burger
13 KFC $4,483,315 4,167 Quick Service Chicken
14 Applebee's $4,418,600 1,857 Casual Dining Varied Menu
15 Olive Garden $3,865,000 840 Casual Dining Italian/Pizza
16 Chipotle Mexican Grill $3,822,200* 2,198 Fast Casual Mexican
17 Little Caesars $3,800,000* 4,388* Quick Service Pizza
18 Buffalo Wild Wings $3,785,000* 1,187 Casual Dining Sports Bar
19 Arby's $3,662,490 3,237 Quick Service Sandwich
20 Chili's Grill & Bar $3,635,000* 1,259 Casual Dining Varied Menu
21 Dairy Queen/Orange Julius $3,621,069 4,517 Quick Service Frozen Desserts
22 Jack in the Box $3,461,540 2,255 Quick Service Burger
23 IHOP $3,222,400 1,631 Family Dining Family Style
24 Papa John's $2,931,550* 3,331 Quick Service Pizza
25 Panda Express $2,903,041 1,893 Fast Casual Asian/Noodle
26 Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen $2,870,000* 2,067 Quick Service Chicken
27 Denny's $2,585,000* 1,610 Family Dining Family Style
28 Outback Steakhouse $2,514,000 755 Casual Dining Steak
29 Red Lobster $2,380,000* 677 Casual Dining Seafood
30 Texas Roadhouse $2,336,200* 499 Casual Dining Steak
31 Cracker Barrel Old Country Store $2,323,200 640 Family Dining Family Style
32 Hardee's $2,241,241 1,848 Quick Service Burger
33 Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches $2,220,000* 2,620 Fast Casual Sandwich
34 Whataburger $2,181,348 806 Quick Service Burger
35 The Cheesecake Factory $2,078,083 194 Casual Dining Varied Menu
36 Zaxby's $1,710,600* 825 Fast Casual Chicken
37 Golden Corral $1,695,641 482 Quick Service Family Casual
38 LongHorn Steakhouse $1,641,000 500 Casual Dining Steak
39 Carl's Jr. $1,519,757 1,163 Quick Service Burger
40 Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews $1,476,000* 533 Casual Dining Varied Menu
41 Five Guys Burgers and Fries $1,436,922 1,284 Fast Casual Burger
42 TGI Fridays $1,367,000* 464 Casual Dining Varied Menu
43 Culver's $1,301,378 605 Quick Service Burger
44 Waffle House $1,246,900* 1,882 Family Dining Family Style
45 Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'N Biscuits $1,229,478* 713 Quick Service Chicken
46 Ruby Tuesday $1,116,700* 673 Casual Dining Varied Menu
47 Steak 'n Shake $1,075,000* 568 Quick Service Burger
48 BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse $993,052 189 Casual Dining Varied Menu
49 Bob Evans $951,200 527 Family Dining Family Style
50 Wingstop $943,258 922 Fast Casual Chicken

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“Large chains will struggle for years. Today you have to be more differentiated. Standing still is no longer an option.” —Darren Tristano, Chief Insights Officer, Technomic

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