Restaurant Chains Race Into Four-Figure Territory

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2007 3:25 PM CDT
Pati Johns, general manager for Panera Restaurant in Antioch, Calif., carries a rack of Choc-O-Nut bagels to put powdered sugar on before putting them out for customers early November 7, 2005. Panera...   (KRT Photos)
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(Newser) – Fast-food behemoth McDonald's took 20 years to open its 1,000th store, but 2007 has seen five chains join the four-digit club, USA Today reports. Of the success of Panda Express, Panera Bread, Papa Murphy’s, Sbarro, and Wing Street, one consultant says: “It's a landmark. It's a goal to join an elite class.”

“It means you can move across the country,” said the marketing chief for Papa Murphy’s. But 1,000 has its perils, too: Boston Market filed for bankruptcy just after passing the mark in 1998, unable to sustain its too-rapid growth. Panera, meanwhile, is “fearful of aspiring to large numbers,” one executive said, lest it tarnish the chain’s community image.