Fast food restaurant is a restaurant that serves fast food cuisine and has minimal to no service. Food served there is cooked in bulk in advance and kept hot, sold and can be eaten there or taken away. Although there were some types of fast food before that, fast food restaurants are the phenomenon of the 20th century.
The first successful fast food restaurant in United States was opened on July 7, 1912 and was of Automat type - a restaurant served by vending machines operated with coins. It created a sensation and sparked building of other Automats around the country.
A&W, founded by Roy W. Allen and Frank Wright, opened in 1919 and started selling root beer. They opened their first drive-in restaurant in Sacramento, California in 1923 and started selling their franchise. They sold hamburgers, french fries, and hot dogs and had 2,000 places by 1960. Today they have more than 1,200 restaurants.
White Castle opened the second fast-food outlet in Wichita, Kansas in 1921. They sold hamburgers and were the first to standardize production of food. They created the first fast food supply chain that supplied ingredients to all outlets. Its founder, cook Walt A. Anderson, is credited with invention of the hamburger bun as we know it today. His partner was Edgar Waldo "Billy" A. Ingram who in time bought out Anderson. White Castle changed the public's perception towards the ground beef and made hamburgers popular. Today they have more than 420 outlets.
Brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald opened a barbecue drive-in in 1940, called McDonald’s, in the city of San Bernardino, California. In time they found out that the most of their profits came from hamburgers so they streamlined their production (called it "Speedee Service System") and started selling hamburgers, french fries, shakes, coffee, and Coca-Cola in paper containers. This allowed them to make hamburgers and fries without pause and waiting for orders from customers. Ray Kroc, salesman of the firm which sold equipment to McDonald’s, signed a franchise agreement with the brothers in 1954 and started the expansion of McDonald’s. Today, McDonald’s has more than 35,000 outlets in 119 countries and serves more than 68 million customers every day.
In 1953, two Miami, Florida businessmen, Keith J. Kramer and his wife's uncle Matthew Burns, opened an Insta-Burger King - a fast food restaurant that used cooking devices called Insta-Broilers. They made hamburgers and were so successful that they started franchising. They faltered in 1959 and were bought by their Miami, Florida franchisees, James McLamore and David R. Edgerton and renamed Burger King. In 1967, when they had over 250 outlets in United States, they were sold to the Pillsbury Company. It is today the second largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants.
Frederick "Fred" DeLuca, opened "Pete's Super Submarines", a sandwich shop, in Bridgeport, Connecticut and started franchising the next year. They changed the name of the sandwich shop to “Subway” in 1968. Today they have more than 34,000 outlets all over the world.