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NATIONAL REPORT -- McDonald's remains the top quick-service restaurant, topping QSR Magazine's list of the bets QSR brands for the second year in a row. The chain increased its domestic sales by nearly $2 billion over the previous year, and nearly tripled the sales of its closest competitor.
Menu additions such as the Chipotle BBQ Angus Burger and the Peppermint Mocha and Hot Chocolate beverages attracted customers, and good press coverage regarding McDonald's decision to decrease the size of French fries in children's Happy Meals and add apple slices likely drew in parents, according to the report.
Other standouts of the year include the new McDonald's Channel, an ad campaign based on transparency, and a national Hiring Day that resulted in the addition of 62,000 new team members. The chain will likely continue its positive streak in 2012 with Chicken McBites and the Extra Value Menu providing extra meal occasions and its current sponsorship of the London Olympics.
No. 2 on the list was another familiar figure, with Subway retaining its rank from last year thanks to its addition of 872 stores and its position as the largest fast-food brand by units in the world. The sandwich chain focused on nutritional initiatives, including calcium- and vitamin D–fortified bread, mass sodium reductions, and healthy-eating tips on its website. Subway also went green and debuted five eco-conscious restaurants with features such as solar panels and low-flow faucets and toilets.
Starbucks leapt two positions from last year to third on the new list, exploring the lunch and evening dayparts with its Bistro Boxes, the Petites dessert line, and test units that serve beer, wine and food plates. Its beverage business also saw some evolution with the VIA line and the rollout of the lighter Blonde roast.
Wendy's held steady at No. 4 after a year during which new CEO Emil Brolick stated his intention to compete with more upscale fast-casual chains such as Five Guys, and the company saw success with low-cost premium burgers such as Dave's Hot N Juicy. However, Burger King fell two spots to No. 5 on the list only months after losing its overall No. 2 burger brand spot. But the chain is fighting back; the last year saw the addition of new burger options such as Stackers and the Chef's Choice lines, new dessert options and a new oatmeal item for the morning daypart. Burger King also hired a new advertising agency and dropped its King character.
Taco Bell, Dunkin' Donuts, Pizza Hut, KFC and Chick-fil-A rounded out the top 10 on the list.