When he cofounded his first sandwich shop in 1965, 17-year-old Fred DeLuca planned to use his profits to pay his way through medical school. But the combination of quality ingredients and friendly service at the shop—then called Pete's Subway—proved so popular that nine years later, he and his partner found themselves in charge of 16 locations across Connecticut, and Fred left behind his doctoring plans for a career in business.
Today, Subway restaurants number more than 34,000 around the world—almost as many shops as there are sightings of Elvis buying cold cuts. At each location, staffers pile sliced ham, marinara-slathered meatballs, and other fillings into halved loaves of bread before customizing handhelds with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and other healthy toppings plucked from chilled containers behind the counter. Salads free crisp veggies from bread's overprotective embrace, and crunchy baked chips or apple slices accompany entrees to tables. Subway's website also facilitates health-conscious eating by listing each item's nutrition information and fastest mile time online.
Originally opened as the Top Hat Drive-In in 1953, Sonic has grown into a burger-franchise mecca that today operates out of 3,500 locations across the country, making it the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants. Sonic specializes in made-to-order American classics—including burgers, hot dogs, milk shakes, and marshmallow Ford Thunderbolts—which customers order and receive without ever having to leave their cars. Unique menu items include toaster sandwiches stacked on thick slices of texas toast, as well as the brand’s signature tots and fresh limeades.
Sonic’s numerous awards include a 2011 Zagat survey ranking it among the top five fast-food restaurants in three categories: Best Value Menu, Best Milk Shake, and Best Drive-Thru. The benevolent eatery has also donated more than $2 million to public schools throughout the country through their program Limeades for Learning, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.
In 1927, The Southland Ice Company’s icehouses were one of the few refuges from the searing Dallas heat and marauding bands of tumbleweeds. That same year, the company’s employees realized the frigid temperatures could also preserve items such as milk and eggs. Soon, as more items and services such as gasoline were gradually added to the operation, the company expanded to stores called Totem’s. To account for the boom in popularity, the stores were kept open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and to reflect these new hours, the store name was changed to 7-Eleven.
Today, 7-Eleven has nearly 50,000 locations in 16 countries. The stores are now open 24/7 and sell everything from iconic Slurpee and Big Gulp drinks to coffee, hot dogs, baked goods, and signature 7-Select products. The store’s involvement in the community matches its commitment to convenience, with generous charity donations and a pledge to the safe sale of age-restricted products.
Yogen Fr?z has an interesting answer for yogurt shops that simply top their swirls with fruit?they mix whole mangos, bananas, watermelon, and kiwis right in with the yogurt. These colorful, fresh creations boast low or no fat as well as a heaping helping of digestion-friendly probiotics and gluten-free goodness. Each flavor is crafted sans artificial flavorings, colors, gelatins, high-fructose corn syrups, or preservatives?all while maintaining gluten-free, kosher-certified status. Of course, customers of the shop?which has more than 1,300 locations in more than 35 countries?can still opt for a traditionally topped cup of yogurt or a fr?zion smoothie. The body bettering doesn?t stop there, as certain topping combinations from its signature fr?zion bar can even support cell membranes and veins, provide antacid and anti-inflammatory relief, or help prevent body aging, especially if bathed in.
Pockets' health-conscious chefs have stuffed stomachs with fresh, all-natural ingredients for more than 20 years, creating low-fat, high-protein combinations of vegetables, fine cheese, and lean meats. Within freshly baked multigrain bread, selections such as spinach, salami, turkey, and tuna combine with edamame beans, crunchy noodles, dried cranberries, and a splash from one of more than 10 dressings, creating a snack more portable than a bicycle made of chocolate. Menu pages also brim with eight healthy salads, seven hearty calzones, and a kids' menu with pint-size portions and sides of magic. Not content with just challenging fast-food ideals, the locally owned Pockets furthers change in its community by regularly donating up to 50% of its profit to charities such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Fox Valley Heart Foundation.
When Hounds Blue Moon began serving up inventive pub fare in 2008, the menu included a modest selection of eight signature stuffed burgers. That list has since expanded to offer diners 26 varieties of burger, each bedecked with elaborate ingredient combinations such as avocado and jalapeno jack cheese, chili and cheese sauce, bacon and cheddar, or roasted jalapeños and pico de gallo. During dinner hours, palates can further expand with Italian dinner specialties such as the chicken vesuvio roasted with potato wedges and peas. And on Sundays, staffers at a brunch buffet customize comfort fare by sizzling made-to order omelets and carving off slices of meat in the shape of each patron's favorite Aleutian Island.