With the Burger In-N-Out opening soon, the Cache Valley restaurant landscape will feature 23 of the top 50 fast food chain restaurants in the US as estimated by the commercial publication QSR.
And, of course, many of those 23 are here in numerous franchise locations.
In-N-Out comes to Nr. 33 in the most recent “QSR-50”, an annual ranking of fast food restaurants based on sales across the system of each chain and last updated in August 2020.
The top 10 restaurants in the ranking are, in order, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell, Burger King, Subway, Wendy’s, Dunkin ‘, Domino’s and Panera Bread.
As most locals will recognize right away, only two fast food chains in the top 10 are not currently represented in the country – Dunkin ‘and Panera Bread. A Dunkin franchise opened in 1051 N. Main in early 2015, but suddenly closed after just nine months of operation. That building is now occupied by Krispy Kreme, which is not currently ranked in the QSR-50.
Among the chains listed with a Cache Valley presence, including Preston, Idaho, some have more than one exit. They are No. 6 ranked Metro (7), No. 9-ranked Domino’s (5), No. 1-ranked McDonald’s (4), No. 5-ranked Burger King (4), No. 7-ranked Wendy’s (4), No. . 2-ranked Starbucks (3), no. 12-ranked Pizza Hut (3), no. 15-ranked Arby’s (3), No. 42-ranked Pope Murphy’s (3), No. 4-ranked Taco Bell (2), Nr. 16 ranked of Caesar the Younger (2), no. 17 of the Panda Express rank (2), no. 23 of the rank of Jimmy John (2) and Nr. 30 ranking Carl’s Jr (2))
Chains in QSR-50 with a valley location are Nr. 3-ranked Chick-fil-A, no. 13-ranked KFC, no. 14-ranked Sonic Drive-In, no. 26-ranked Culver’s, no. 27- ranked Five boys, no. 31 listed in Jersey Mike, Nr. 38 listed in Firehouse Subs and Nr. 39 listed in Del Taco.
Stories abound for locals and businessmen trying and failing to secure franchises in Cache Valley. Each chain has its own requirements to qualify, and many limit how close the points of sale can be. The Herald Journal turned to the two leading franchisees in the valley to discuss the local process and trends, but received no response.
Visitors to the newspaper’s Facebook page weighed enthusiastically on a question posted Thursday about what chain restaurant they would like to see added to the fast food valley, but some commenters came out quickly to offer the opinion that chains of fast food had to take a back seat to local catering establishments.
“The best restaurants in any city are local,” wrote Tyler Riggs. “In Logan, Le Nonne, Herm’s, Crumb Bros., Tandoori Oven, El Toro Viejo etc … run circles around the best chain restaurants.… If we do not give active priority to local business over that chain, we will soon have only “Chain business and we will look like any other community in the country. And that’s sad.”
DeAnn Johnson expanded on this topic, commenting, “What if we take a minute, slow down and breathe. We have plenty of places for fast food. We have to enjoy what has already been created. If anything, as you say “Someone enters and remodels an existing but free building. I hate to see all the empty buildings sitting around the valley.”
But many of the 500 plus comments on Facebook on Thursday reflected the Cache Valley fast food mania evident in online clicks whenever the Herald Journal posts an article on the subject.
Suggestions for new fast food outlets had a wide range, and many of them currently carry items in the QSR-50, such as Jack in the Box, Dairy Queen, Louisiana Kitchen Popeyes, Whataburger, Zaxby’s, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, El Pollo Loco and Smoothie Tropical Cafe.
A couple of commenters called for a second Chick-fil-A restaurant to cut long lines to the current location of chain 1323 N. Main location. One noted that the lines have hampered traffic in the shopping area there and that the situation could worsen as a new WinCo supermarket opens behind the restaurant later this year.
Other restaurants that received multiple approvals on the subject of comments – some of which would be defined in the restaurant industry as “casual” compared to fast food – were The Habit Burger Grill, Mexican Chipolte Grill, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Taco John’s, Red Robin, White Castle, Crown Burger, Dutch Bros, Pei Wei Asian Diner, Long John Silver’s and Skippers.
Logan had a Skippers for a while on 14th North and Main Street, and had at least two Dairy Queen outlets past Cache Valley.
Employment has become a problem for the restaurant industry both locally and nationally in the last two years. Some local restaurants have shortened hours due to difficulties in recruiting and maintaining workers, but large fast food chains seem to be keeping the traditional hours, if the occasional closure of dinner areas temporarily even after state restrictions COVID-19 would allow them to stay open.
Signs of employment have been raised at the fastest food restaurants in the Cache Valley. Some points offer different signing rewards and incentives for job recruits.