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Hungry? Go Somewhere Else. Fast Food Chains To Stay Away From And Why

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Some people are more a pizza from Domino’s kind of person, and some people are a Big Mac and fries kind of person. Yes, we all love some fast food and more often than not we have our favorite chain or restaurant. But not all the fast-food chains are liked by everyone.

Consumer Reports is an American nonprofit organization dedicated to unbiased product testing, who conducted a survey of 32,000 people ranking 65 fast-food chains from the best to the worst. Referencing this report we have comprised a list for you to take in which fast-food chains performed the worst.

1. CiCi’s Pizza


CiCi’s Pizza was founded in 1985 in Plano, Texas. And now has around 500 locations in The United States. It is known for its extensive buffet offerings, which led to it becoming one of Americas fastest-growing pizza chains the past few years.

However, it’s not all good news for the Texan pizza joint. Some of the reviews for the establishment are pretty terrible. Although the chain ranked well on the politeness of staff, it ranked poorly overall. Quality of the dishes and the cleanliness of the dining area were some of the worst-rated. I don’t know about you but we want to eat in a clean pizzeria.

2. Sbarro


Sbarro is an Italian cuisine and New York style pizza chain. In 2008, it was rated the number one quick-service restaurant in the Italian segment by Entrepreneur Magazine and has over 600 locations shopping malls, airport and even naval bases across the states.

However, with a Consumer Reports’ Grade of 65/100, it’s no wonder this chain made our list. With a slogan saying “Fresh Italian Food”, you would expect the chain to at least rank highly on the freshness of its ingredients. But, it was on this marker and that of its poor food quality that customers were in general not happy. Much better to make some spaghetti at home.

3. Jimmy John’s

Jimmy John’s Franchise, LLC is an American sandwich fast-food chain owned by “Inspire Brands” and specializing in delivery, with a motto of “Freaky Fast, Freaky Fresh.” But how accurate is this moto?

Let’s start with Freaky Fast. Only 34% of customers were impressed by the restaurant’s speed, and Freaky Fresh was even less likely to be true. The Consumer Report collected data gave an insight into Jimmy John’s quality of ingredients and most consumers complained about the quality and freshness of the food. Is that surprising though? 1,000-calorie sub delivered at the drop of a hat doesn’t sound too appetizing to us.

4. Church’s Chicken


Church’s Chicken is a chain of fast-food restaurant founded by George W. Church Sr., on April 17, 1952, in San Antonio, Texas. They specialize in fried chicken and outside of the U.S., they are known as Texas Chicken.

Their customer base likes the chains, rather obviously, chicken but also their biscuits and fries. However, not as much as the restaurant may have thought. With a Consumer Reports’ Grade: 72/100, Church’s Chicken was ranked low on the friendliness of staff, the service and at times the quality or consistency of the food provided. We’re not sure if George W. Church Sr. would be happy to hear that.

5. Long John Silver’s

Long John Silver is a fictional character from the classic novel, Treasure Island. So you can imagine what this fast-food chain focusses on, seafood. Fish and chips and hushpuppies, in particular, are what Long John Silver’s customers travel to their restaurants for.

However, it’s not all good for the ocean inspired chain with only 41% of customers remaining loyal to it’s baked seafood, while repeat customers will usually skip the fried platters. Even though seafood is seen as a slightly healthier option, but this just isn’t the case for this chain’s battered fish and condiments. Better to try getting out on the water yourself.

6. Bojangles

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Bojangles is a regional chain of fast food restaurants, specializing in fried chicken, and buttermilk biscuits that primarily serves the Southeastern United States. The chain claims to have unique cajun seasoning that separates its chicken from others and similarly special techniques to make its biscuits.

However, just because they serve all, does not at all correlate to them being experts in this style of cuisine. Even though North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis at one time defended the chain and, in his opinion, the home of ‘Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits,’ customers did not follow his opinion. Only 57% of Consumer Reports taste testers said they would not return for the cajun inspired food.

7. Krystal

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Most of the pictures in our list show the food of the restaurants in an ok light. However, for Krystal, we may have one of the least appetizing images of food on our list. For those of you unfamiliar with the chain, we think this image will help give you an idea of the kind of food we are talking about.

Krystal has about 350 stores across the U.S. and is known for a small burger similar to those of white castle. But the meat to bun ratio, quality of ingredients and even, at times, cleanliness of their restaurants has not given customers any reason to rush back.

8. Checkers

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Checkers is one of the largest chains of double drive-thru restaurants in the United States and has a loyal customer base who swear by their classic American food like hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, and milkshakes.

But, the Consumer Reports’ survey, found a few issues with the restaurant chains service speed. Long wait times were top of the list of complaints by Checkers customers, with many saying queue times were the worst they ever had to experience at any of the restaurants they ate at. As many as 64% of their customers said they would not return to the chain.

9. Einstein Bros. Bagels

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With a few of this lists pictures not being the most flattering to the chains mentioned, some deserve to be exposed and this bagel from Einstein Brothers has to be one of the worst.

Not only are the looks not the best when it comes to these bagels, but consumers mention in the report that they are also quite bland. Times and hygiene were not as much of a concern to the chains consumers as the tasteless bagels being served up. Other problems experienced were unfresh vegetables. Meaning 60% of the chains customers said they would not be returning.

10. Auntie Anne’s

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The pretzel originates in Germany and is a traditional bread with a more chewy texture. Auntie Anne’s is an American chain that began it’s story recreating or perhaps trying to recreate this traditional German food, starting up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The chain has now spread all over the country and become one of the most famous fast-food chains in America. Now much more than a pretzel place, they have moved into more sweet and savoury options, breads and even pizzas. However, their ratings were not the best in the consumer report as a result of their poor customer service.

11. El Pollo Loco

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El Pollo Loco translates to “The Crazy Chicken” in English and is the name for two independent restaurant chains on either side of the U.S. Mexican border, but for discussion’s sake, we are going to keep to the American El Pollo Loco. They specialize in Mexican-style grilled chicken but maybe the El Pollo Loco in Mexico has better standards.

Customers of the consumer report said the chains’ food was not of the same standards as the bigger chains such as KFC. The consumers report also said customers were not impressed with the value deals either. The company says it comes down to the fact that they are a smaller chain and can’t do the same prices. While there’s no excuse for the bad food.

12. Wingstop

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Wingstop Inc. is a chain attempting to hit the consumers more nostalgic side using aviation-themed restaurants. The chain’s locations are themed in the 1930s and 1940s “pre-jet” aviation time, one could even say a simpler time. Their restaurants playoff this wing theme serving and specializing in chicken wings.

The restaurant also gives a range of sides to go along with the customer’s orders of wings. However, this might simply complicate things and it turns out the establishment hasn’t got the wings themselves figured out yet. Some customers complained about bland and even burnt food. Maybe that was the way wings were in 1930.

13. Wienerschnitzel

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Back to another German themed restaurant with the chain known as Wienerschnitzel. This attempt at German traditional food was founded in 1961 and is now one of the most popular hotdog fast-food chains in the whole of the United States. Over 120 million hot dogs are sold by the company every year, helping a large number of Americans get their fix for their hotdogs.

However, Wienerschnitzel’s 120 million hot dogs might not all be of the highest quality. It turns out they don’t always provide quality meat and also has a poor hot dog meat to bun ratio.

14. Charley’s Philly Steaks

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A lot of people out there love a Philly cheesesteak but it has to be one of the foods on our list that varies the most from restaurant to restaurant. Charley’s Philly Steaks says it maintains standards but in actual fact, the Ohio joint is not too admired by previous customers.

Charley’s Philly Steaks is well-known for its attempts at the classics like fries, lemonade and of course the Philly cheesesteak. But there are issues that many customers have complained about. For example, its locations have been marked very low. Whether that’s hygiene or service consumers have not been happy about the establishment.

15. Arby’s

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Arby’s may not be a restaurant chain that many outside of the United States have experienced or even heard about. But within the American borders, the fast-food chain is quite well known, including their slogan they’ve got “the meats,” whatever that means. The chain has a simple menu that many are set on with including their infamous roast-beef.

However, we were under the assumption the roast beef was of an ok standard. That just isn’t the case with rumors of pretty awful stuff going into the prized meat. Putting many customers, loyal or not, off the restaurant chain.

16. Carl’s Jr.

Carl’s Jr. might not be known in Europe, but the restaurant chain has establishments in Australia, the United States, Canada, Asia and Latin America. Showing the range and number of possible locations to enjoy their renowned burgers, fries and other foods.

But it’s not all great as the consumer picks survey has pointed out. Only 33% of consumers who took place in the consumer picks survey were hooked enough to return to eat the chains’ food. Reasons for customers lack of excitement to return mainly came down to the caloric intake related to the menu, reaching as high as 920.

17. Sonic

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The majority associate Sonic to a fast running hedgehog collecting rings and not a burger and fries, but this American drive-in fast-food restaurant chain will give you other ideas. Owned by Inspire Brands, the parent company of Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic restaurants are in a total of 46 U.S. states.

At times the chain is considered a cult classic among its loyal customers because of the parking lot and roadside delivery style, like that out of a classic Hollywood movie. But all of this flare is worth nothing once the consumers try the restaurant’s food, that is almost guaranteed to put them off coming back.