The biggest fast food chains in the world

A Subway restaurant in Malaysia. Subway is the largest fast food restaurant chain in the world. Editorial credit: Azne Omar /

A fast food restaurant is a specific type of restaurant that is defined by minimal table service and quickly prepared food. Fast food restaurants are also called quick service restaurants. A restaurant chain is a group of related restaurants based in different locations that are operated either through franchise agreements or under shared ownership, such as McDonald’s in the United States. Normally, restaurants within a chain are not only built according to an architectural prototype of the required format, but also offer usual services and menu. Fast food chains are popular and are mostly found near malls, tourist areas and highways.

Metro – 42,998 spaces

Subway is an American fast food franchise chain that primarily sells submarine sandwiches commonly known as subs and salads. Subway is privately held, owned and operated by Doctors Associates Inc. Subway is the world’s largest and fastest growing restaurant chain with 42,998 restaurants in 112 countries and territories. The Subway fast food restaurant in the United States alone has approximately 25,549 outlets. Subway is also the world’s largest operator with international headquarters in Milford, Connecticut.

McDonald’s – 37,200 locations

McDonald’s is an American fast food and hamburger restaurant chain founded in 1940 by Richard and Maurice McDonald as a barbecue restaurant. In 1948 McDonald’s reorganized its business as a hamburger stand and later in 1953 the first McDonald’s franchise opened in Phoenix, Arizona. Currently, McDonald’s is the second largest restaurant chain in the world, available in 119 countries with approximately 36,900 outlets. McDonald’s primarily sells chicken products, shakes, burgers, breakfast foods, desserts, and soft drinks. However, the company recently expanded its menu to include fruit, fish, smoothies, salads and wraps. McDonald’s is one of largest employers in the USA.

Starbucks – 30,000 locations

Starbucks is an American coffee chain founded in 1971 in Seattle, Washington. Starbucks primarily serves espresso, whole bean coffee, fresh juices, lattes, Frappuccinos, La Boulange pastries, and loose leaf teas. Starbucks became profitable in the early 1980s.

KFC – 20,404 locations

Kentucky Fried Chicken, popularly known as KFC, is an American fast food restaurant chain that primarily focuses on fried chicken. KFC’s corporate headquarters are located in Louisville, Kentucky. As of December 2015, KFC was operational in 123 countries and territories with 20,404 outlets. KFC is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, which is a restaurant company that owns other restaurant chains such as Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. KFC was founded by Colonel Harland Sanders, an entrepreneur who started selling fried chicken at his roadside restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky. KFC initially only served chicken before expanding its menu in the 1990s to offer other items such as salads, fries, soft drinks, chicken burgers, coleslaw, wraps and desserts.

Burger King – 16,859 locations

Burger King is an American hamburger fast food restaurant chain headquartered in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Burger King was founded in 1953 as Insta-Burger King in Jacksonville, Florida. Burger King’s menu has expanded to primarily feature burgers, milkshakes, sodas, and fries to a wide range of products. It is estimated that Burger King had 16,859 outlets in 100 countries as of September 30, 2016. Nearly half of the outlets are in the United States, and 99.5% are not only operated by individuals, but also by private owners.

The biggest fast food chains in the world

Rank Last name Number of slots
1 Subway 42,998
2 McDonald’s 37,200
3 Starbucks 30,000
4 KFC 20,404
5 Burger King 16,859
6 pizza hut 16,796
seven Dominoes 15,000
8 Dunkin’ 11,300
9 Baskin Robbins 7,500
ten Hunt Brothers Pizza 7,300
11 Taco Bell 7,000
12 Wendy’s 6,490
13 Hardee’s 5,812
14 julius orange 5,700
15 Papa John’s Pizza 5,318
16 dairy queen 4,800
17 Little Caesars 4,800
18 Tim Hortons 4,774
19 CNHLS 4,000
20 Sonic drive-in 3,526

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