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    Wendy's Overtakes Burger King as Second-Largest Fast Food Burger Chain

    The chain's $8.5 billion in sales beat Burger King's $8.4 billion despite operating fewer stores.

    CHICAGO -- It may be time for Burger King to hand over its crown. As predicted late last year, rival Wendy's replaced it as the No. 2 fast food burger chain by boosting sales to $8.5 billion in 2011 versus Burger King's $8.4 billion, according to Technomic Inc.'s annual report on top U.S. restaurant chains.

    McDonald's remains the largest restaurant chain in the country and increased sales 5.5 percent to $34.2 billion in 2011. Subway and Starbucks came in and No. 2 and 3 respectively in terms of overall size, followed by Wendy's and Burger King. Overall, Technomic found that U.S. systemwide sales for the Top 500 chains totaled $242 billion, an increase of more than $8 billion from 2010.

    "It is certainly encouraging to see overall industry growth rates nearly double in one year," said Technomic President Ron Paul. "On a chain-by-chain basis, however, performance varied substantially, reflecting the fact that many organizations are still redefining their value propositions for today's economy and tackling various industry challenges."

    Limited service restaurants increased sales by 3.7 percent, with growth mainly coming from coffee and tea, other sandwich and Mexican categories, according to Technomic. Starbucks led the limited service segment with estimated sales growth of 7.5 percent, followed by Subway (7.5 percent) and Chipotle Mexican Grill (23.4 percent). Five Guys Burgers and Fries topped the list of fastest-growing chains with $951 million in sales, a 32.8 percent increase from 2010.

    Of all the top 500 restaurant chains, more than 60 percent saw at least some increase in sales, and only 193 chains faced a decline in sales, down from 231 in 2010.

    The Technomic Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report is available for purchase on Technomic's website.

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