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The History of Fast Food: Statistics & Numbers

Who dominates the fast food industry? How large is the fast food industry? We've traced the growth of 16 leading fast-food chains.

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First Restaurant with Online Ordering System

The first restaurant to implement online ordering systems is a bit difficult to pinpoint precisely, as the concept gradually evolved with the advent of the internet and e-commerce. However, Pizza Hut is often credited with pioneering online ordering for food delivery. In 1994, Pizza Hut launched its online ordering system, allowing customers to place orders via the internet for delivery or pickup.

Pizza Hut’s decision to introduce online ordering in the mid-1990s showcased the company’s commitment to embracing emerging technologies. By allowing customers to place orders through the internet, Pizza Hut positioned itself at the forefront of digital innovation in the restaurant industry.

The online ordering system provided customers with unprecedented convenience and customization options. From the comfort of their homes or offices, customers could browse the menu, customize their orders, and specify delivery or pickup preferences with just a few clicks.

The platform offered an intuitive and user-friendly interface, making it easy for customers to navigate the menu and place orders efficiently. Features such as saved preferences, order history, and promotional offers further enhanced the user experience, fostering loyalty and repeat business.

First Restaurant with Website

The Good Earth Restaurant, located in Silicon Valley, is often cited as one of the first restaurant website, which went online in 1991. While information about the restaurant itself is limited, its significance lies in being an early adopter of internet technology, particularly in the realm of business and hospitality.

Silicon Valley, known as the epicenter of technological innovation, was a fitting location for such an early foray into the digital realm by a restaurant. The Good Earth Restaurant’s decision to establish an online presence in the early ’90s was a bold and pioneering move, reflecting the growing importance of the internet as a platform for commerce and communication.

Although details about The Good Earth Restaurant are scarce, its website likely served as a simple informational tool, providing visitors with basic details such as location, menu offerings, and perhaps contact information. The website may have also included rudimentary forms of online interaction, such as email contact options.

The launch of The Good Earth Restaurant’s website marked the beginning of a new era in the restaurant industry, demonstrating the potential for leveraging the internet to reach a wider audience and enhance customer engagement. It set a precedent for other restaurants to follow suit, ultimately paving the way for the widespread adoption of online platforms for ordering, reservations, and customer service in the years to come.

First Restaurant with Mobile App

Domino’s Pizza, a global leader in pizza delivery and takeaway, made significant strides in digital innovation, particularly with the launch of its restaurant mobile app in 2010. This move marked a pivotal moment in the restaurant industry, showcasing Domino’s commitment to leveraging emerging technologies to enhance customer experience and streamline operations.

The launch of the Domino’s Pizza mobile app revolutionized the way customers interacted with the brand. With the app, users gained the convenience of placing orders, customizing their pizzas, and tracking delivery status directly from their smartphones. This shift towards mobile ordering empowered customers with unprecedented control and flexibility over their dining experience, aligning perfectly with the growing trend of on-the-go lifestyles and digital convenience.

Moreover, Domino’s Pizza’s mobile app wasn’t merely a digital replica of its website but rather a tailored experience optimized for mobile devices. The app leveraged the capabilities of smartphones, such as GPS location services, push notifications, and mobile payments, to offer a seamless and intuitive ordering process. This focus on user experience set a new standard for mobile apps in the restaurant industry and beyond.

First Restaurant with QR Code Menu

The first restaurant to implement QR code menus is not definitively documented, as the adoption of QR code menus gained prominence particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic as a measure to reduce physical contact and minimize the spread of the virus. However, QR code menus became increasingly popular around 2020-2021. One of the early adopters of QR code menus was a restaurant called The Barn in Tiffin, Ohio.

Amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, The Barn embraced technology to adapt to the new normal. By implementing QR code menus, the restaurant demonstrated a commitment to safeguarding the health and well-being of its guests and staff. QR code menus enabled diners to access the restaurant’s offerings directly from their smartphones, minimizing physical contact and reducing the risk of virus transmission.

The decision to adopt QR code menus likely involved careful consideration of various factors, including technological feasibility, customer preferences, and public health guidelines. The Barn’s proactive approach to embracing digital innovation not only showcased its adaptability but also positioned it as a forward-thinking establishment in the hospitality industry.

Furthermore, The Barn’s implementation of QR code menus may have enhanced the overall dining experience for its guests. By leveraging technology, the restaurant streamlined the ordering process, empowered patrons with interactive menu options, and fostered a sense of safety and convenience.

  1. Wikipedia – History of McDonald’s
  2. Los Angeles Times – McDonald’s French Fries, Now the Real Thing
  3. Feedough – The History of KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken)
  4. PDFCoffee – A Brief History of KFC
  5. Zippia – KFC Careers: Jobs, Application & Employment
  6. Wikipedia – Burger King
  7. Encyclopedia – Burger King Corp
  8. Encyclopedia – Dunkin’ Donuts
  9. Dunkin’ Donuts Newsroom – Dunkin’ Donuts Newsroom
  10. LiveAbout – The History of Dunkin’ Donuts
  11. Pizza Hut Blog – Our Story: The History of Pizza Hut
  12. Pizza Hut Germany – Pizza Hut History
  13. TimeToast – Pizza Hut Founded and History
  14. Starbucks Stories – About Us: Company Timeline
  15. Taco Bell Australia – About Taco Bell
  16. Statista – Number of Taco Bell Restaurants Worldwide
  17. Wikipedia – Taco Bell
  18. Encyclopedia – Taco Bell Corp
  19. Subway – About Us: History
  20. Franchise UK – Who Founded the Subway Sandwich Franchise?
  21. Encyclopedia – Domino’s Pizza, Inc.
  22. Domino’s Pizza Business – Domino’s History
  23. Course Hero – Domino’s History
  24. Hunt Brothers Pizza – About Us
  25. Montgomery Advertiser – Hunt Brothers Pizza Rules Rural South Convenience Stores
  26. Dairy Queen – About Us
  27. Zippia – International Dairy Queen Careers: Jobs, Application & Employment
  28. TimeToast – Dairy Queen
  29. SEC Database – Wendy’s International, Inc.
  30. Reference for Business – Wendy’s International, Inc.
  31. TimeToast – Wendy’s
  32. Baskin Robbins MEA – Know the Brand: The Journey
  33. Los Angeles Times – Irvine Robbins Obituary
  34. Bartleby – Taking a Look at Dunkin’ Brands
  35. Wikipedia – Irv Robbins
  36. NCPedia – Hardee’s Restaurants
  37. Hardee’s – About Us
  38. Zippia – Papa John’s International Careers: Jobs, Application & Employment
  39. Portada – Papa John’s: Daniel Rosas: “Super Bowl is Our #1 Sales and Delivery Day of the Year”
  40. Little Caesars – Our History
  41. Reference for Business – Little Caesar Enterprises, Inc.
  42. Wikipedia – Little Caesars

Additional references:

  1. Tricon 1999 Annual Report
  2. Domino’s Results for 1999
  3. Number of Hunt Brothers Pizza stores in the United States in 2024
  4. Hardee’s Franchises Make $1.2M Revenue (2023 Stats)
  5. Number of KFC restaurants worldwide 2010-2023
  6. Number of Starbucks Stores Globally, 1992-2021
  7. Burger King 2010 Annual Report
  8. Dunkin’ Donuts adds nearly 600 stores in 2010
  9. Subway Wikipedia
  10. Domino’s Pizza Announces 2010 Financial Results
  11. Wendy’s: Number of Restaurants Globally (2006 – 2021)
  12. Papa John’s Announces Fourth Quarter and Full-Year 2010 Results

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  • 1930 the first restaurant that we now call KFC opened


  • In 1940 Dairy Queen and McDonald’s open


  • In 1950 Dairy Queen opened its 1,400-location
  • Sanders Court & Café (KFC) operates in two locations – a restaurant with 140 seats and a motel
  • Dunkin Donuts and Baskin-Robbins start to operate


  • Dairy Queen has 2,600 locations
  • KFC opened 200 restaurants
  • McDonald’s and Baskin-Robbins opened their 100 location
  • Burger King, Pizza Hut, Little Caesars, Hardee’s, and Domino’s started to operate


  • KFC – 3,000 restaurants
  • McDonald’s – 1,000 
  • Baskin-Robbins – 500
  • Pizza Hut – 310
  • Burger King – 250
  • Dunkin Donuts – 100
  • Taco Bell started and quickly opened 325 restaurants
  • Subway and Wendy’s started


  • McDonald’s – 5,000 restaurants 
  • Pizza Hut – 3,000
  • Burger King and Wendy’s – 2,000
  • Dunkin Donuts and Baskin-Robbins – 1,000
  • Domino’s – 200
  • Subway – 100
  • Starbucks starts to operate


  • McDonald’s – 10,000 restaurants 
  • KFC – 6,000
  • Burger King – 5,500
  • Subway, Domino’s, and Pizza Hut – 5,000
  • Taco Bell and Wendy’s – 3,000
  • Dunkin Donuts and Hardy’s – 2,000
  • Little Caesars – 1,000
  • Papa John’s Pizza starts operating


  • McDonald’s – 28,707 restaurants
  • Pizza Hut – 12,045
  • KFC – 10,826 
  • Burger King and Subway – 10,000
  • Taco Bell – 7111
  • Domino’s – 6,559
  • Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, and Baskin-Robbins – 5,000
  • Hardee’s – 3800
  • Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks – 3,000
  • Papa John’s Pizza and Little Caesars – 2,000
  • Hunt Brothers Pizza started operating and soon opened around 1,000 locations


  • At the end of 2010, Subway became the largest fast-food chain worldwide, with 33,749 restaurants – 1,012 more than McDonald’s.
  • McDonalds – 32,737 stores
  • Starbucks – 16,858
  • KFC’s – 16,853
  • Pizza Hut – 13,500
  • Burger King – 12,174
  • Dunkin Donuts – 9,700
  • Domino’s – 9,169
  • Wendy’s – 6,576
  • Taco Bell – 5,000
  • Papa John’s Pizza – 3,646


  • McDonald’s – 40,000 stores
  • Starbucks – 38,000
  • Subway – 37,000
  • KFC – 30,000
  • Burger King – 20,000
  • Pizza Hut – 19,900
  • Domino’s – 20,591
  • Dunkin’ (Dunkin Donuts) – 13,200
  • Hunt Brothers Pizza – 9,703
  • Taco Bell – 8,564
  • Baskin-Robbins – 8,000
  • Dairy Queen and Wendy’s – 7,000
  • Hardee’s, Papa John’s Pizza, and Little Caesars – above 5,000