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The United States has a massive selection of sit-down restaurants with cuisines of all types and tastes. The idea of chain sit-down restaurants across a region has largely been credited to Harland Sanders, who franchised his secret recipe. This resulted in his restaurant, KFC, becoming one of the largest in the world. Here are some of the biggest sit-down restaurants in the United States that you should definitely try!
Chick-fil-A is a play on the American English pronunciation of the word “fillet” and is an American fast-food sit-down restaurant food chain that specializes in chicken sandwiches. It was founded in 1946 and now has more than 2,200 restaurants. Chick-fil-A serves breakfast in the morning before changing to the lunch and dinner menu. Since the company follows the religious beliefs of its late founder, it remains closed on Sundays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Wendy’s is a popular American fast-food restaurant chain founded in 1969. It is the world’s third-largest hamburger fast-food chain after Burger King and McDonald’s. It has 6,711 branches across the globe and even bought out Arby’s. 92% of its restaurants are located in the United States, while only 353 are owned by the company itself.
The chain is famous for its sea salt fries, square hamburgers, and signature Frosty drink. The company does not have a “signature sandwich,” but Dave’s 1/4 lb. Single has become a signature by default. This sandwich became famous for its unique square patties instead of the circular ones. The shape ensures that the beef hangs out of the bun, which looks appetizing to many.
Five Guys Burgers and Fries is a casual sit-down restaurant in America which focuses on hamburgers, French fries, and hot dogs. The Five Guys restaurant was founded in 1986 and rapidly spread in 2003 through franchising. It sold more than 300 franchised locations in one and a half years. It earned 832 million USD in 2016 alone, making it one of the biggest sit-down restaurants in America.
Dairy Queen (DQ) is an American chain that serves fast food. It became famous due to its soft-serve ice cream. The first Dairy Queen restaurant opened in Illinois in 1940. It has 6,400 stores around the world in 27 different countries. The largest DQ is in Illinois, the biggest store is in Riyadh, and the busiest is in Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Subway is a privately owned, fast-food sit-down restaurant franchise. It is famous for its submarine sandwiches and salads. These sandwiches are popular since they are easy to eat and you can make them your own. The idea of a cold sandwich is also unique since most fast-food restaurants focus on hamburgers and French fries as their default menu. It is one of the fastest-growing franchises in the world and has 42,000 stores in 100 different countries. More than half of these 42,000 branches are located in the US alone.
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews is commonly known as Red Robin. It is an American chain with many casual dining sit-down restaurants around the country. It was founded in September 1969, and the restaurant’s first franchise was opened in 1979. In 2018, it expanded to 573 restaurants. 484 restaurants are still owned by the company in 39 US states and 2 Canadian provinces, while the franchises are spread across 16 states.
IHOP is short for International House of Pancakes. In 2019, it made headlines by suddenly changing its name to International House of Burgers (IHOB) for a little while. It changed the name back after facing significant backlash.
The American multinational pancake restaurant chain became famous for its breakfast foods. It also offers a variety of lunch and dinner items, but you will love the restaurant if you like breakfast for dinner, as many people do. The restaurant has 1,650 locations in Latin America, Southeast Asia, Oceania, and North America. 99% of the branches are owned by independent franchises, though. Many of its locations are open 24 hours.
Kentucky Fried Chicken is known as KFC, one of the world’s most popular fried chicken places. This American fast-food sit-down restaurant is the world’s second-largest restaurant chain after McDonald’s. It has 22,621 branches throughout the world in 136 countries. The company also owns Pizza Hut, WingStreet, and Taco Bell under a subsidiary called Yum! Brands.
KFC was founded by Colonel Harland Sanders, who sold fried chicken from a roadside restaurant. He was one of the first people to see the potential in franchising, and KFC opened its first franchise in 1952 in Utah. KFC challenged the popularity of hamburgers since it was a unique option for people. Harland also spread the popularity of KFC by branding himself as “Colonel Sanders,” who became a popular figure in American culture and history. His image is still widely used in advertising for KFC.
KFC was one of the first American sit-down restaurants to expand internationally
It opened various franchises in Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, and the United Kingdom in the 1960s. Through a series of buying and selling, KFC ended up under the chain of PepsiCo. In 1987, it even became the first restaurant chain to open in China, and its branches can be found on almost every block of China in the present day.
KFC still sells its original product of pressure-fried chicken seasoned with Sanders’ beloved 11 herbs and spices recipe. The recipe is a notable trade secret, so KFC remains one of the most popular brands. Portions of the chicken are served in the famous cardboard “bucket,” which has become a well-known and popular feature in the restaurant. KFC has expanded its menu to chicken fillet sandwiches, wraps, salads, French fries, desserts, and more! KFC is known for its popular slogan, “It’s Finger-Lickin’ Good!”
Taco Bell is a famous American chain of fast-food restaurants and a subsidiary of Yum! Brands. They specialize in Mexican-inspired cooking, which includes burritos, quesadillas, nachos, and tacos. In 2018, Taco Bell served more than 2 billion customers. They have 7,072 restaurants throughout America, with only 7% owned by the company.
Glen Bell founded Taco Bell after opening a hotdog stand in front of Mitla Café, which had long lines of customers. The Mexican restaurant became famous due to the hard-shell tacos it sold. Bell even attempted to reverse-engineer the taco but couldn’t perfect it. Later, the owners allowed him to see how tacos were made. He opened a stall called Taco-Tia in the early-1950s and sold tacos there.
Eventually, Bell opened El Taco in southern California with a partner and later built Taco Bell in Downey in 1962. By 1967, the company rapidly expanded and opened 100 restaurants. In 1978, PepsiCo purchased the company.
The Cheesecake Factory
The Cheesecake Factory is an American restaurant company and a major distributor of cheesecakes. The company has 210 full-service restaurants, 194 of which are under the name of The Cheesecake Factory. They even sell baked goods and cheesecakes in two bakeries in California and North Carolina. The first restaurant was opened in California in 1978 by David M. Overton. The restaurant soon became famous for its huge menu, signature cheesecakes, and large food portions.
Olive Garden is an American restaurant chain for casual dining. It specializes in Italian-American cuisines, such as spaghetti, pasta, steak, and risotto. Olive Garden has 892 branches worldwide and generates $3.8 billion in revenue.
Olive Garden’s breadsticks are really popular, and its lunch menu is also centered on breadsticks. The company also boasts that daily sauces are freshly made at each location. In 2010, Olive Garden expanded its menu with dessert additions. These were inspired by a sibling chain called Season 52.
The company slogan is “We’re all family here,” The restaurant has unlimited breadsticks, soup, and salad for its customers. In 2013, the restaurant even promoted the “Never Ending Pasta Bowl” and served 13 million pasta bowls during the event. “Never Ending Pasta Pass” is also sold to 1000 people each year, and it allows people to eat all the pasta they want during a seven-week period for only $99.
Burger King (BK) is an American chain of hamburger fast food restaurants that has spread globally. The restaurant was originally founded in 1953 as Insta-Burger King. After a few issues with finance, the company was sold and rebranded as Burger King. Over the next 50 years, it was sold to three different owners and later to the public in 2002.
Burger King offers burgers, sodas, French fries, and milkshakes. In 1957, the Whopper burger became Burger King’s signature product. BK also has some products which are strictly tailored to regional tastes. In 2018, Burger King had 17,796 outlets in 100 countries. Nearly half of these are located in the US, and 99.7% are privately owned.
Red Lobster is an American casual dining restaurant chain in America, Ecuador, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Qatar, Japan, Mexico, and the United Arab Emirates. In 2013, the company opened its restaurants in 705 locations. It is owned by the Golden Gate Capital, which acquired it from Darden Restaurants (owner of Olive Garden).
The owner of the restaurant was actually 19 when he started the business. They had an endless crab promotion in 2003, nearly shutting down the business. The company underestimated how much crab customers could put away and faced a dramatic decrease in profits. The Cheddar Bay Biscuits is one of the most famous dishes by the company and had originally replaced some unpopular hushpuppies.
Starbucks is an American coffeehouse chain serving baked goods and light food. It was founded in 1971 and has over 30,000 stores worldwide as of 2019. The first Starbucks to open outside North America was in Tokyo, Japan. Starbucks is considered a representation of how coffee consumption has changed. It represents the “second wave coffee,” which is different from any other venue that serves coffee in relation to customer experience, taste, and quality.
Starbucks uses automated espresso machines for safety and efficiency instead of hand-made, lightly roasted coffee like many third-wave coffee enthusiasts. Their branches serve many products like whole-bean coffee, hot and cold drinks, espresso, caffe latte, micro-ground instant coffee, Frappuccino drinks, juice, and full and loose-leaf teas. Food items include fresh pastries, snacks, sandwiches, and even drinkware.
Howard Schultz was the CEO of Starbucks before resigning in 2018 and announcing a run for president of the United States.
Arby’s is an American fast-food sandwich restaurant chain with quick service and has more than 3,300 restaurants. Arby’s most famous sandwiches are the classic Roast Beef and Beef ‘n Cheddar products. They also have other deli-style Market Fresh sandwiches, Jamocha Shakes, and Curly Fries. It had 3,342 restaurants in 2015 and has opened internationally in Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Turkey, and Canada.
Buffalo Wild Wings
Buffalo Wild Wings is an American sports bar and casual dining restaurant franchise. It has restaurants in the United States, Canada, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, India, Panama, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Oman, and Vietnam. Buffalo Wild Wings is known for its Buffalo wings and sauces.
By 2017, the chain had 1,238 locations and 625 owned by the company. The company has been nicknamed B-Dubs, a branding tactic by the company.
Chili’s Grill & Bar is an American restaurant chain with casual dining. The company was founded in Texas in 1975 by Larry Lavine. It is currently owned by Brinker International. It was inspired by two Texas burger houses, Burger House and Goff’s Hamburgers, and has even credited them. Chili’s is known for its chips, salsa, wings, burgers, tacos, and many other sides and also has a nutritional, vegetarian, and allergy-friendly menu.
Outback Steakhouse is an American casual dining restaurant chain with an Australian theme. It serves American cuisine and has over a thousand locations in 23 countries in North and South America, Australia, and Asia. Outback was founded in 1988 and is owned by Bloomin’ Brands. It is famous for generously seasoned steaks, saucy desserts, and fried shrimp platters.
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
Popeyes is an American multinational chain of fast-food restaurants. It was founded in 1972 in New Orleans and focuses on fried chicken. It was previously named Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits and even Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken & Biscuits at one point. According to units sold, Popeyes is the second-largest restaurant serving chicken after KFC. It has 3,102 restaurants in 40 states in America and is operational in 30 other countries worldwide.
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Chipotle Mexican Grill is often known simply as Chipotle. It is an American fast-casual restaurant chain in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and France. It specializes in tacos and Mission-style burritos. The restaurant is inspired by a Nahuatl name for a smoked and dried jalapeño chili pepper called chipotle.
It was founded in 1993 by Steve Ells and had 16 restaurants in Colorado when McDonald’s became a huge investor in 1998. Through the boost provided by McDonald’s, Chipotle opened 500 restaurants, making it one of the biggest sit-down restaurants in America. It has over 2,000 locations, a net income of half a billion, and a staff of more than 45,000 workers.
In-N-Out Burger is an American chain of fast-food sit-down restaurants in a specific region of the Southwest and Pacific Ocean. It was founded in 1948 in California and has expanded outside of Southern California to Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Texas, and Oregon. The current owner is Lynsi Snyder. It has chosen not to franchise its operations or go public to maintain quality and customer service, which can be impeded when a business grows rapidly. The company is known for its employee-centered policies and pays its staff more than state and federal minimum wage guidelines. It is rated as one of the best in customer satisfaction and has acquired a huge fan base.
Dunkin’ Donuts rebranded in 2018 as Dunkin’, is an American multinational coffee company with a quick-service restaurant. It was opened in 1950 by William Rosenberg and was later acquired by Allied Lyons (who also own Baskin-Robbins’). With nearly 12,000 branches in over 36 countries, it is one of the world’s largest coffee and baked goods restaurants. It produces hot and iced beverages, bagels, donuts, and more.
With hundreds of famous restaurant chains, America is the hub of food and cuisines. There are many other huge sit-down restaurants, but these were the most popular ones by far!