People spend a lot of money going to fast food chains and they have many choices. But customers aren’t always happy with these restaurants, and they aren’t shy about sharing their feelings about which ones are a little less than desirable. Here are the top 10 worst fast food chains.
Popeye, the feisty cartoon sailor, was known for saying colorful things like “I am what I am, and that’s all that I am.” This description seems a little limiting, but perhaps it applies even more so to the fast food chain that is Popeye’s namesake. In 2016, after years of decline and unwelcome customer reviews, the Popeye Chicken fast food chain admitted it had to do better. The management agreed with its clientele that its customer service had become shoddy and needed to be addressed. Strangely, Popeye’s sales have not declined, in fact its sales have increased even though its marks on customer service continue to sink. Customers must really enjoy the fried chicken and other tasty choices as they seem willing to put up with slow and even rude employees. Although, there have also been some complaints about the chain’s popular fried chicken sandwiches. This seems like a pretty big problem for a fast food chain that prides itself on their fried chicken. Customer criticism has to be taken with a grain of salt because of course, there are some people who just like to complain and service varies from location to location. With that being said, Popeye’s has really taken strides forward with their customer service over the past couple years. They’ve really turned things around to the point where they’ll be falling off this list in the near future.
There are more than 1,300 Cinnabon locations around the world so the fast chain must be doing something right. Most people who enjoy Cinnabon’s gooey sweet pastries know they are loaded with sugar, fat and of course, a diet-busting amount of calories. People are willing to put up with this unfortunate reality because the sweet rolls taste so good. However, when the quality starts to waver, then there is a problem; it’s like breaking a contract with a customer. Making a delicious cinnamon bun shouldn’t be too hard, but attention to detail is key. Perhaps Cinnabon has lost its focus on its core product because it expanded into paninis and the now defunct Pizzabon. Not only has the fast food chain lost focus on its signature item, it has compounded the problem with frivolous merchandising endeavors. Do you really need Cinnabon Chapstick or Cinnabon flavored vodka? Cinnabon thinks you do, but maybe the company would do well to refocus its efforts on the quality of its core products and service. Although not flashy, these measures would be improvements that would speak for themselves.
Pizza and fast food are very popular so a fast food pizza chain seems like a no brainer. The problem is, you still have to execute, and Domino’s has had some issues with this part. A pizza restaurant can’t afford to be accused of putting out mediocre pies that skimp on toppings, but Dominos has found itself in this very spot. In 2009, Domino’s put out a commercial where the company essentially admitted it had been putting out weak pizza for a while, but it was committed to listening to customers and making real improvements. Eleven years later, is Domino’s pizza a lot better than it used to be? Taste in pizza is pretty subjective like any taste in food, but a case has been made by some that Domino’s is just convenient to order, and this is what accounts for a lot of its success – the convenience factor and not necessarily a great pizza. This is a pretty bold charge, but is the company just better at marketing? In one online poll, Domino’s has been smacked pretty hard with 62% of respondents calling the fast food chain “bad,” and only 16% giving the company a grade of “excellent.” While most of these online polls aren’t scientific, they should at least give the fast food chain some food for thought.
7. Burger King
You have to give Burger King some credit because the fast food chain does offer some interesting items that McDonald’s doesn’t – such as onion rings and their Hershey’s sundae pie. Burger King also goes a step further than McDonald’s with its flame broiled cooking instead of frying. With advantages like these, you’d think the king would be laughing at that clown by now. The McDonald’s golden arches are a world wide icon, recognized by billions of people. Burger King has a creepy looking king mascot that looks like an android from a cheesy science fiction show; McDonald’s has Ronald McDonald who is one of the most beloved clowns in history. Many have speculated that Burger King began going downhill after the fast food chain was bought by an investment firm. All kinds of people can run a successful business, but perhaps the firm just hasn’t been giving Burger King the proper attention it deserves and the details are slipping through the cracks. Customers tend to think Burger King’s rival, McDonald’s is the cleaner chain. This is a serious problem for Burger King because people always want to be able associate cleanliness with food preparation. There’s really no excuse for dirty outlets, because mopping and cleaning should be a part of any restaurant’s daily routine. McDonald’s has a reputation for consistency that Burger King simply can’t match.
6. Long John Silver’s
What would Long John Silver the pirate think of what has become of his namesake fast food chain? If he were a real person instead of a fictional character, he might be disappointed by the current state of affairs. Long John Silver’s was conceived as a way to bring a casual seafood dining experience to people who don’t live near any seaside fish eateries. This sounds like a good idea, but the execution of this vision has been less than successful. Part of the charm of Long John Silver’s was nautical-themed dining areas with props like buoys, nets and floatation rings. The details were phased out of the restaurants in the 1990’s in favor of a more generic decor. To add insult to injury, many Long John Silver’s have been paired with other fast food chains. Some of the seafood restaurants share space with chains like A&W. Perhaps customers could look the other way on all these issues if Long John Silver’s was offering excellent seafood, but this is sadly not the case. Doughy hush puppies and fishy fish won’t make customers happy. Think how troubled a seafood chain must be if people complain about the fish smelling too fishy. In recent years the chain has tried to address the issues with its menu and in 2018 began offering some healthier grilled options, but it remains to be seen if Long John Silver’s will stop taking on water anytime soon.
5. Boston Market
This fast food chain was known as Boston Chicken when it was founded in 1984 in Newton, Massachusetts. That name was considered too limiting however, so in 1995 it was changed to Boston Market. Maybe less focus on the name and more focus on the chicken? It seems they didn’t focus very well at all because the fast food chain went into bankruptcy in the year 2000 and was bought by McDonald’s. Though McDonald’s treated this more like a real estate deal and closed down or rebuilt many locations before eventually re-selling the franchise themselves in 2007. Even if Boston Market can consistently put out great tasting rotisserie chicken, the company finds itself beset by a lot of competition. Unlike when Boston Market first opened, today many supermarkets sell fresh rotisserie chicken of their own at a decent price. This fast food chain features a mostly traditional menu with comfort food like chicken pot pies, macaroni, and cheese cornbread. This is an issue in an era where many people are looking for healthier options from fast food chains. How many people is unclear because there are still plenty of people who regularly consume generous amounts of unhealthy fried foods at any number of fast food restaurants. Customer complaints often focus on the food or the service, but at least one reviewer was surprised and disappointed Boston Market only provided plastic utensils and plates. This customer intends to bring their own silverware on their next visit.
4. Sbarro Pizza
Who doesn’t love a hot slice of New York Style Pizza? With it’s large hand-tossed thin crust, savory tomato sauce and perfectly melted cheese. These New York Style pizzas are often sold in large slices, to go. That is also the idea behind Sbarro, offering pizza slices for on-the-go shoppers at food courts in malls and shopping centers everywhere. The problem lies within the pizza itself however, it’s just not that good. Their pizza slices have been described as too-sweet and too-doughy. Compounding the problem is the fact that the pizza often gets left out for long periods of time. Even though they will re-heat the slice for you, it’s still often served at room temperature, or has that unpleasant re-heated texture and taste. The pizzas are just not cooked fresh to order, therefore they will always be a let down to anyone expecting a fresh out of the oven pizza pie. But don’t take our word for it, in the past 15 years, Sbarro has closed hundreds of stores, cutting their total locations to half of what it was in the mid-2000s. Yes this has a lot to do with people spending less time at malls, and pizza-by-the-slice joints lining every other city street, but Sbarro should have had a leg up on the pizza slice competition. They had already established themselves and were part of shopping and food culture. Unfortunately, their lower quality of pizza was always going to be too much to overcome, what was once acceptable in food courts, just doesn’t cut it anymore with so many newer, better options popping up.
3. Einstein Brothers Bagels
Albert Einstein is famous for his groundbreaking theory of relativity, but Einstein Brothers Bagels is famous for… well, for sharing a name with probably the most famous scientist in history. New Yorkers like to claim bagels as their own and can be pretty discerning about them, but the rest of us tend to be more open about getting a decent bagel outside the Big Apple. What makes a good bagel? Crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside? The Einstein brothers have expanded their menu far beyond bagels by offering sandwiches, muffins, breakfast burritos and chocolate chip cookie kits. The fast food chain also offers croissants, coffee cake, strudel and hash browns. Sounds like a great place to get yourself a nice breakfast or lunch right? It might be, at certain locations, but Einstein Brothers Bagels stores have failed inspections due to thing like roaches, flies, food left uncovered, you get the picture… Digging further there’s claims from past workers essentially saying the company does not care about it’s employees, and that the bottom line and profits are all that matter. While this is a similar circumstance that you’ll find at many businesses, when you start to hear things like managers at Einstein Brothers Bagels locations training employees to save food items that they should be throwing out, or 25 year old half-working ovens that are injury hazards, you can see this Bagel Chain needs to shape up if they want to actually compete with the top dogs.
Unfortunately, Quiznos might be more well known for the bizarre television commercials that featured spongmonkeys. What are spongmonkeys? They seem to be ugly little stuffed rodent-like animals that wear old fashioned hats. One of them plays a guitar, but this little detail is more annoying than charming. Sandwiches are not very hard to make so if someone is going to pay a fast food chain to make one for them, it better be good. This means a generous amount of decent ingredients and fresh bread. Quiznos likes to toast the sandwiches but the point remains that the product has to go above and beyond what we could easily make without leaving home. Subway is the more popular brand and Quiznos’ top competition. Subway has been around a while and is a well known fast food chain when it comes to making sandwiches. This is why Quiznos tried to carve out a niche as a somewhat higher end restaurant, but sometimes this just means they are more expensive than the competition – not necessarily better. The plan that Quiznos pursued did not work and here’s the proof. Between 2007 and 2018 the fast food chain went from operating 4,500 stores down to about 400 stores. This is a 90% decline and an indication of serious issues that the company still needs to address.
1. Taco Bell
The popularity of Mexican food has surged over the last few decades challenging the classic fast foods like burgers and pizza. Mexican fast food items such as tacos and burritos are easy to make and convenient to eat even while driving. Fast food chains like Taco Bell have helped fuel this popularity and have profited from it. However, popularity can work against a business sometimes. Taco Bell may have lost focus on its core mission: to provide good Mexican food quickly at reasonable prices. There is a Facebook page that provides evidence that the fast food chain has failed to maintain its quality, and customers have noticed. There is no disputing how the people who left comments on this page feel about Taco Bell. Other social media platforms provide plenty of evidence of customer dissatisfaction. The restaurant’s calorie counts have also come under fire. One video critical of the fast food chain pointed out that just four of Taco Bell’s Cinnabon Delights are a hefty 1000 calories. What about Taco Bell’s “Fourth Meal” campaign that implies you’ll crave the chain’s food if you’re drunk enough? Seems like the company is making fun of itself or worse – its customers. Either way it’s not really a good look and it’s part of the reason Taco Bell is one of the worst fast food chains.