Teens have a new favorite fast-food chain

Chick-fil-A chicken sandwichHollis Johnson

  • Chick-fil-A earned the No. 1 spot in a biannual survey of teens' favorite restaurant chains.
  • The chicken chain beat out brands including Starbucks, Chipotle, and McDonald's.
  • Chick-fil-A's sales have exploded in recent years, from nearly $8 billion in 2016 to more than $9 billion in 2017.

Chick-fil-A is the new fast-food queen of the teens.

The chicken chain ranked first in preferred restaurant brands among upper-income teens in Piper Jaffray's biannual survey, beating out chains including Starbucks, Chipotle, and McDonald's.

Chick-fil-AHollis Johnson/Business Insider

Chick-fil-A has long topped rankings of food quality and customer service. It is one of the most profitable chains in America, with average sales per restaurant reaching $4.4 million in 2016, according to a report from QSR magazine. For comparison, KFC sold $1.1 million per restaurant in the same period.

Teens' growing appreciation for the chain is likely tied to the chain's aggressive growth in recent years. While Chick-fil-A has an established cult following in the South, the chain is now gaining fans in places such as New York City and the Midwest.

In 2017, the chain reported more than $9 billion in revenue, marking 50 consecutive years of sales growth. That's up more than $1 billion from 2016, when it earned nearly $8 billion in sales. Food-industry research firm Technomic estimates that by 2020, Chick-fil-A will be the third-largest chain in the US in terms of sales, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, BuzzFeed reported.

Chick-fil-A's win caps off the chain's steady rise as a teen obsession. The chicken chain first made Piper Jaffray's top-five list in spring 2012, and it spent the next five years edging up the list one stop at a time.

The chain reached the No. 1 spot in spring 2017, before being beaten out by Starbucks in the fall. Now, however, Chick-fil-A is back on top.

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