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The 15 Least Loved Fast Food Restaurants in America

A recent survey evaluated the value of convenience and loyalty at American fast food restaurants. Where did your favorite fast food restaurant rank?

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Peter Kim/Shutterstock

Nation’s Restaurant News worked with Datassential, a consumer research brand, to discover the least popular fast food restaurants in America. The survey asked participants if their last visit to one of these fast food joints was motivated by convenience or because they really loved the brand. The lower the percentage, the less likely customers were motivated to eat there because of brand loyalty and how much they enjoy the food. Some restaurants are tied and have the same percentage in the ranking. Is your favorite on the list?

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A&W Restaurant
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15. A&W

Starting at the top of the 15 least popular fast food restaurants in America is a brand that might actually have more popularity with its root beer floats than its actual food items. Only 35 percent of customers ate at A&W last because they felt loyal to the brand. 

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Auntie Anne's at the Mall Ngamwongwan on May 13, 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand.

14. Auntie Anne’s

These restaurants often found in mall food courts aren’t that loved by America’s shoppers. Getting a whiff of an Auntie Anne’s pretzel makes your mouth drool as you browse the racks, but just 35 percent of people would grab a bite to eat there because they’re real fans of the chain. Check out these healthy options at some of the most popular fast food restaurants.

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Quiznos Sub fast food restaurant in London. Quiznos is a sandwich shop franchise with 1,500 U.S. shops and 600 international locations.

13. Quiznos Subs

Making your own sandwich seems to be the perfect grab-and-go lunch. Turns out Quiznos’ subs aren’t a fan favorite in the fast food world; it also has a brand loyalty score of 35 percent. 

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The first Denny's American Diner to open in the UK was in Swansea in 2017 creating 70 jobs. Denny's was one of the original 'diner' concept and is now found worldwide.

12. Denny’s

Not as popular as other fast food breakfast restaurants, Denny’s has been working more to increase its brand loyalty, according to the chief marketing officer. Maybe it’s new partnership with Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise will make it more popular for all generations.

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Hardee's restaurant exterior and sign. Hardee's Food Systems, Inc., is an American fast-food restaurant chain.
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11. Hardee’s

The CEO of Hardee’s, Jason Marker, said in a statement that this brand has always been one that “welcomes you home.” Too bad the customer loyalty is so low; about 34 percent of customers eat here because they feel loyal to the brand and want to eat its food. Here are the 9 foods nutritionists never eat at fast food restaurants.

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Hooters exterior and logo. Hooters is a casual dining restaurant chain in the United States.
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10. Hooters

Even though this restaurant is known for their wings, oysters, and sports broadcasts, it turns out that only 34 percent of people actually eat here because they’re true fans of the brand.

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Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwich Restaurant. Jimmy John's is known for their fast delivery
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9. Jimmy John’s

Getting a sandwich delivered to your door has never been easier since Jimmy John’s opened in 1983. But the last time a majority of customers actually went to Jimmy John’s, their motivation was purely out of the restaurant’s accessibility.

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Signboard Sbarro on the building. Sbarro is a chain of pizza restaurants that specializes in Italian-American cuisine

8. Sbarro

Nothing says easy eating like ordering a pizza. When it comes to fast food pizza, only 34 percent of survey participants felt like Sbarro really satisfied their Italian craving. A majority of people, however, only eat there because they can get a quick fix.

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TGI Fridays exterior and logo. TGI Friday's is an American restaurant chain focusing on casual dining.

7. TGI Fridays

An easy-to-order-and-pick-up meal is great for people in a rush. But would you sacrifice a quality brand for convenience? Only 34 percent of participants felt like they didn’t have to sacrifice quality when eating at Fridays because they love the brand. Luckily, eating fast foods just got easier with these 24 copycat recipes for your favorite restaurant appetizers.

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Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar Restaurant. You Can Find Live Sports, Wings and Beer at B-Dubs
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6. Buffalo Wild Wings

According to the survey, 33 percent of survey participants would go to this wing restaurant because they love the atmosphere and food, not just for the convenience. Still, these wings won’t fly with everybody’s taste buds.

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Burger King Retail Fast Food Location. Every day, more than 11 million guests visit Burger King II
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5. Burger King

Food from the Home of the Whopper only comes into the homes of about 33 percent of loyal customers, the survey suggests. Find out how your favorite fast food restaurants got their names.

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Carl's Jr. Restaurant exterior. Carl's Jr., an American-based fast-food restaurant chain with locations in the Western and Southwestern states.
Ken Wolter/Shutterstock

4. Carl’s Jr.

Recently, more Carl’s Jr. fast food restaurants popped up all over the world. In fact, you can find this “bold” restaurant in 43 foreign countries. Maybe the brand is craved more overseas, because many Americans are not loyal customers of Carl’s Jr.

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Jack in the Box Restaurant exterior. Jack in the Box is an American fast-food restaurant chain with 2,200 locations, serving the West Coast of the United States.
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3. Jack in the Box

In 2017, Jack in the Box hired a new media agency to revamp and give their brand a “competitive advantage,” chief marketing officer Iwona Alter said in a statement. That was a smart move because Jack in the Box is one of the least popular fast food restaurants in America, with a brand loyalty score of 33 percent. Have a look at the first locations of 8 famous fast food restaurants.

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Johnny Rockets restaurant exterior and sign. Johnny Rockets is an American restaurant franchise.
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2. Johnny Rockets

Eating at Johnny Rockets can be fun if you want an old-school American vibe. Too bad a majority of people would rather not order a burger and shake in this nostalgic ambience. Only 31 percent of customers surveyed would eat there because of the brand.

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Close up shop sign McDonald's is on the road W Century Blvd in Los Angeles.
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1. McDonald’s

When it comes to brand loyalty, McDonald’s is by far the least popular fast food restaurant in America. Only 28 percent of people surveyed said they would eat there because of the brand., meaning people typically visit the Golden Arches out of pure convenience. Next, learn more insider secrets that your fast food worker isn’t telling you.