Since Wendy’s supplanted Burger King as the second-largest American fast food chain in 2020, other perennial quick-serve restaurants have undergone similar paradigm shifts.
This article is based on corporate postings and accredited media reports. Linked information within this article is attributed to the following outlets: EatThis.com, RestaurantClicks.com, Mashed.com, GrouperSandwich.com, and RestaurantBusinessOnline.com.
I have written regularly for NewsBreak about 2022 restaurant closings. As examples, see here for “National Chain Restaurants Scheduled to Close in 2022,” and here for an update. In specifically addressing rumors of fast food chain closures, my article, “Fast Food Chains Closing Locations in 2022,” focused exclusively on KFC, Wendy’s and Taco Bell. In each case, individual locations were listed as shuttering but they were strategic in nature and largely due to under-performance.
Since NewsBreak’s publication of that last piece, several media outlets have reported updates of expected other fast food chain closures.
Let us explore further.
2022 Expected Closures
On May 5, 2022, EatThis.com published “4 Major Fast Food Chains With Declining Sales This Year,” which listed Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Popeyes, and Burger King as the four companies presently experiencing business challenges.
I’ve written about all of those chains for NewsBreak. For example, see here for my piece regarding Pizza Hut business, which excerpts a March, 2022 RestaurantClicks.com article entitled “The Truth Behind Rumors of Pizza Hut Closing,” which elaborates on reported strategic closings, specifically the company’s announcement of August, 2019 regarding its plans to close around 500 restaurants across the U.S. by 2021, and its unexpected 2020 announcement regarding the closure of 300 more restaurants after franchise provider NPC International declared bankruptcy.
As we are now midway through 2022, EatThis.com’s piece linked above offers a more current perspective, one following the above closings and a shift of focus to delivery and takeout: The shift ended up helping sales at the tail end of the pandemic, but with the first-quarter sales results of 2022 Pizza Hut seems to be in another rut. The fast-food chain just reported its U.S. same-store sales declined 6%, in a slump that looks eerily similar to the one happening over at Domino's. Just like its rival, Pizza Hut has also blamed a delivery driver shortage, which has resulted in longer wait times and shorter business hours.
Though today some fortunes may have turned among those entities listed here, in December of last year Mashed.com updated an article that remains relevant. In “Beloved Chain Restaurants We Might Sadly Lose In 2022,” Pizza Hut is prominent on the list. That said, the company has improved its business of late, so time will tell as to its fate in the short-term.
Regarding current Burger King business, the article begins the section with a mention that the chain is far more popular overseas than domestically: In 2020, the company was ingloriously de-throned by Wendy's, which took its spot behind McDonald's as the second-biggest fast-food burger chain in America in terms of sales. The recent sales report showed the chain's sales still haven't improved: same-store sales dropped by 0.5% in 2022. But BK isn't going down without a fight. It has already started simplifying its menu, which it hopes will streamline operations and result in shorter wait times for customers. It has also increased staffing at franchise locations and is remodeling about one-third of its restaurants to a more modern look.
Also in December, 2021, Moneywise.com published “The Chains are Closing the Most Restaurants.” The article also features Pizza Hut and Burger King, along with Subway, which I had also written about for NewsBreak and has been closing stores consistently since well prior to the pandemic.
As excerpted from my article: According to blog site GrouperSandwich.com, figures of which have been verified by Subway’s corporate website: One of the world’s largest sandwich companies lost a total of 1,000 locations in 2018 and 2019.As its franchisees closed more than 3,000 locations, the chain saw its share of annual sales drop by 12% by 2020.With 23,801 locations, Subway has reached its 2020 goal. Several Subway restaurant owners have cited the poor leadership of CEO John Chidsey as the primary reason for the company’s decline and closings.In Chidsey’s tenure as Subway’s CEO, 500 corporate employees were laid off, franchise startup costs were raised, and menu items were left unheralded.
Further, in May of 2021, RestaurantBusinessOnline.com ran a piece entitled “Subway Franchisees Expect Several Thousand More Closures,” which stated: Many of the sandwich chain’s operators are simply waiting for their leases to end so they can walk away, some operators say.
Perhaps incongruously, Subway ended 2021 with its highest earnings in years.
Fast food entities such as McDonald’s and Taco Bell, though they too have faced rumors of business closures over the years, tend not to appear on legitimate listings of such entities that are in imminent danger.
Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut and others close stores regularly due to strategic reasons, sometimes as in the case of Subway in the high-hundreds over short periods of time, but none of the companies listed here have been announced as going out of business.
Though the above chains will most likely continue to close individual locations throughout the remainder of 2022, for now they are largely expected remain fully operational.
For the sake of perspective, I’ll conclude with an archived June, 2021 piece from EatThis.com, “24 Failed Fast-Food Chains That Are Gone Forever,” that proves such unexpected events can indeed occur, however, based on various unfavorable factors.
Thank you for reading.