Original Locations – Top 20 Fast Food Restaurants
The Top 20 Fast Food Restaurants, collectively, have nearly 125,000 locations across the U.S. (Source: QSR Top 50 – 2013, published August 2014), and many, though not all, have spread across all 50 states. For each of these businesses, what started out as a single location has now become a massive network of corporate-owned and franchise-owned stores, with the exception of Chipotle Mexican Grill which currently has not franchised its concept. Opening a new business, especially a restaurant, can be a challenging endeavor and to become a highly successful national or international chain is an even greater feat.
Being both a history and geography nerd, I began to think about the origins of some of these most recognized fast food giants. Who were the individuals that harbored the oh-so necessary entrepreneurial spirit to make their dreams a reality? Most of us are familiar with Ray Kroc, the “father” of McDonalds, or Colonel Sanders selling his chicken from a local service station in Corbin, Kentucky, or Dave Thomas naming his restaurant after one of his daughters. But did you know that Papa John’s first pizza was crafted in an old broom closet in Jeffersonville, Indiana? Or that Glen Bell, founder of Taco Bell, first started out in the business by opening a hot dog stand in San Bernadino, in the very same city and around the very same time as the McDonald’s brothers were just starting out? Or that Pizza Hut got its name because only 9 letters would fit on the sign of the hut-like building the Carney brothers started out in after borrowing $600 from their mom to open a pizza shop? Or that Subway was originally named Pete’s Submarines and sounded like “pizza marines” which caused customers to ask for pizza?
Every one of these restaurants has a fascinating story and a rich history. Below is an interactive map we’ve created pinpointing the location of the very first location of each of the Top 20 Fast Food restaurants (exact addresses used when available, otherwise the original city). Hover over any of the locations for a brief description of the origins of the businesses, and an update on the status of the original location where available. Will we be placing your company’s original location pin on a map like this one day soon? We sure hope so!