The original article is posted at QSR Magazine, where I write a monthly column.

The top 10 quick-service restaurant apps in the U.S. were downloaded 10.5 million times in February, 4.2 percent more than those the month prior. Year-over-year in the month of February, downloads of the top 36 quick-service restaurant apps are up 33.7 percent. A download represents a new user and the first conversion on the mobile app customer’s journey.

February 2023

Subway jumped up three spots to #3, the highest it has landed on the chart since we’ve been keeping track (June 2021). Subway’s new menu has been giving it a higher level of daily downloads, but it also promoted a BOGO deal in early February that was only available through the mobile app. Chipotle makes the chart back to back months after being absent since October 2021, but slides from #7 to #10. Domino’s, which is normally #3 behind McDonald’s and Starbucks, was #5 in January and is #6 in February.

Domino’s appears to be sliding, but it’s not just Domino’s, several top pizza apps are down year-over-year when it comes to installs for the first two months of the year. While Papa Johns is having a resurgence, it’s the sandwich shops that people are turning to so far this year.

pizza yoy

While all top sandwich apps are up year-over-year, it’s Jersey Mike’s and Subway that are leading the way with 112% growth and 76% growth, respectively. Jimmy John’s rings in at 40% while Potbelly and Firehouse Subs both come in at 22%.

Jersey Mike’s is not a case of a promotional spike. In May of last year, it started registering a new level of daily installs and has kept the pace ever since. From May 2021 through April 2022, the chain averaged 4,873 daily downloads. Starting in May, it’s been averaging 9,854 daily downloads, an increase of 102%. Most of this increase stems from a burst of new locations but it coincidentally lines up well with making its grilled portabella mushroom and swiss sub sandwiches part of its permanent menu.

Panda Express is this February’s biggest month-over-month downloads riser at 47.5%. It also recently earned the honor in December with 43.2% growth. The chain famous for orange chicken ran a promotion celebrating the Lunar New Year in the form of a lottery scratcher game. Customers could win discounts, free food, and substantial gift cards by playing.

Click to learn 5 strategies used by top apps to acquire, engage, and retain users.