Top U.S. Chain Restaurants - where HAVEN'T you been?

I’ve been looking at this list of the Top 400 Restaurant Chains in the United States in 2009, as ranked by Restaurants & Institutions (R&I) in order of 2008 sales. There are many that I’ve never hear of!

  1. What is the highest ranking chain that you’ve never eaten at (or otherwise visited)?
  2. What is the highest ranking chain you’ve never seen in person (but may have heard of)?
  3. What is the highest ranking chain you never even heard of?

For me the answers are:

  1. #13 Sonic - I see them all over when out driving, but I really don’t have any desire to eat in my car!
  2. #43 Texas Roadhouse - Never been there. I have to say, this is a rather forgettable and generic sounding name for a chain!
  3. #57 Carrabba’s Italian Grill - supposedly some are in my area, I’ve just never noticed them.

Now I feel like I should try to visit all 400 at least once, or at least the ones I haven’t already been to!

The homepage of the report is here. It breaks down the ranks by segments (Casual, Chicken , etc.) and has some other interesting information.

The highest 5 I’ve never eaten at:

#17: Chick-fil-A
#22: Panera bread (never even heard of it)
#25: Cracker Barrel
#26: Papa John’s
#36: Chipotle Mexican Grill (I see billboards everywhere for this one, but have no idea where the closest one is to me)

I don’t remember ever patronizing a Dunkin’ Donuts.

Never eaten at :#17, Chick-fil-a
Never seen personally :#41, Whataburger. (at least not that I recall)
Never heard of :#57, Carrabba’s.

The answer to all three questions for me is Panera Bread.

I have never ever heard of such a place until just now. I may live in a small city, but I’ve visited a lot of large cities in the U.S. and I have never seen this place.

Therefore, I haven’t seen one in person nor have I eaten at one.

  1. Highest ranking I’ve never eaten at: #41 Whataburger
  2. Highest ranking I’ve never seen in person: #41 Whataburger
  3. Highest ranking I’ve never heard of: #50 Perkins Restaurant and Bakery

I almost stopped at a Whataburger on a long drive for Thanksgiving vacation (there are none where I live). I saw the sign on the interstate (around Memphis, I think?), thought about it, but decided to keep driving.

Not sure what it says about me that apparently all the places I’ve ever seen I’ve eaten at :smiley: (actually, further down the list is one that I drive past quite frequently, but haven’t stopped at yet: Culver’s)

#15 Jack in the Box
#60 Culver’s Frozen Custard & ButterBurgers
#60 Culver’s Frozen Custard & ButterBurgers

Interesting. I drive past a Panera every day on the way to, and sometimes from, work. I’ve seen several of them in widely scattered places in the U.S., usually in more upscale suburban areas.

In some places (esp. around St. Louis), it is/was known as “St. Louis Bread Company.”

  1. Never eaten at: Sonic
  2. Never seen: Sonic
  3. Never heard of: Panera Bread

Get commericials ALL THE TIME for Sonic where I live, but never actually seen one. Apparently they’re all in Bakersfield or on the 99.

Never seen a Jack In The Box.
Never eaten at Dairy Queen.
Never heard of Culver’s Frozen Custard & ButterBurgers (and glad of it!)

Never eaten at: #9, Domino’s
Never seen (that I recall): #15, Jack In The Box
Never heard of: #39, Church’s Chicken

  1. I don’t think I’ve been to an Applebees (#11), but I know for a fact I’ve never been to a Red Robin (#37).
  2. I don’t think I’ve seen a Red Robin.
  3. I just saw my first Buffalo Wild Wings (#38) the day after Thanksgiving, never heard of it before; so now I have to say Texas Roadhouse (#43). It sounds really unappetizing to me.

1: Never eaten at-#13 Sonic
2: Never seen-#13 Sonic
3: Never heard of-Golden Corral Buffet and Grill

Never eaten at Carl’s Jr. #33
Never heard of or seen a Culver’s Frozen Custard & ButterBurgers #60

The fact that I had to go that far down the list kind of makes me sad. Plus the fact that if I ever saw a Carl’s, I’d eat there.

In my defense, I live the chain restaurant capital of the world, Orlando.

never been: 14/15 Been to either Arby’s or Jack in the Box, but not both and I can’t remember which.
never seen or heard of: 33 Golden Corral Buffet & Grill.

As a corollary, what’s the lowest one you’ve been to, and what’s the lowest you’ve heard of. I’ve driven by Honey Dew Donuts (#305-- also the first one from the bottom I’ve even heard of), but can’t swear that I’ve been in one. I’ve been to Yoshinoya (#277), but only in Japan, so I don’t know that that counts. The lowest one I’ve definitely been to is Carvel (#209), but not since I was a kid.

  1. Chick-fil-A
  2. Buffalo Wild Wings
  3. Buffalo Wild Wings

#400. Spaghetti Warehouse.

  1. Never eaten at #4 Starbucks
  2. Never seen #22 Panera Bread
  3. Never heard of #22 Panera Bread

Numbers 2 and 3 are kind of strange, I think, as I spent the first 13 years of my life(I am now 24) in Missouri. For those of you that don’t know, Panera Bread was apparently started, and is headquartered, near St. Louis, MO.

As mentioned above, it is known there as St. Louis Bread Company.