The List: 7 More Fast Food Chains Some Fans Want to See in Columbus
Whenever a major fast food chain opens its first location in Central Ohio, it makes a big splash. Most recently Del Taco arrived in the region with a location in Bellefontaine and more franchises slated to pop-up in Columbus and its assorted suburbs.
We decided to take a look at some of the other bigger fast food chains we often see our readers talking about and find out how far of a drive you currently need to make to get your fix.
By far the most popular request for a Columbus location, California-based In-N-Out Burger has a rabid fan-base for locals who have relocated to Ohio from out west. After 70+ years in operation, In-N-Out is still a private company that has forgone franchise expansion, which means that its 350 plus locations are still mostly in the west and southwest portions of the U.S.
Currently, your closest location is likely the Plano, Texas (Dallas suburb) location, just a quick 15-and-a-half-hour drive from Columbus. If anyone ever makes this 2,000 mile round trip for a burger, please let us know!
More info at www.in-n-out.com.
Speaking of Texas, Whataburger is similar to In-N-Out in that it was founded around the same timeframe and kept private with some limited franchising expansion. Which again means that they remain a pretty regional chain across the southern half of the U.S.
Thankfully, your current drive for Whataburger is just a little bit closer with a location in Fultondale, Alabama (a Birmingham suburb) that’s a mere eight-and-a-half-hour drive.
For more details, visit www.whataburger.com.
If you crave fast food chicken, then you’ve already got your pick from Raising Cane’s to KFC to Chik-Fil-A. But if you’re from Georgia, you might also have a hankering for Zaxby’s. This southern chain has expanded all the way up to Kentucky and Indiana, and actually had a short-lived expansion into Columbus through a franchise location on High Street near OSU that lasted all of six months in the summer of 2008.
Currently, you’ve got to make the trek 150 miles south (nearly three hours) to Georgetown, Kentucky just outside of Lexington.
For more info, visit www.zaxbys.com.
Speaking of fried chicken, another popular southern spot is Bojangles, which first launched in North Carolina and is currently headquartered in Georgia. Locations have grown all over the south and eastern seaboard stretching as far north as Pennsylvania. There’s a few franchises overseas and a press release from 2017 indicates that Cincinnati could be home to the first Ohio locations, but that’s yet to materialize.
Currently, the closest Bojangles is also located in Georgetown, Kentucky. Same time and distance as the aforementioned Zaxby’s location. Seriously, they’re 400 feet apart, separated only by a church parking lot. Might as well get both if you’re going to make that drive.
For full details, head on down to www.bojangles.com.
This may seem sacrilegious in Columbus, home of the White Castle headquarters, but there’s another slider out there in fast food land, known as Krystal. Being founded and based in Chattanooga, Tennessee means that they’re another chain that’s still regional to the south, and Ohio is too far north and out of reach of their spread thus far.
Currently, if you want to get a Krystal fix, you’ve got to drive three hours and 18 minutes south (166 miles) to Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, just east of Lexington to find ’em.
For more details, visit www.krystal.com.
Jack in the Box
Jack in the Box is another California-based chain that has expanded across the U.S., and they do actually have an Ohio presence. The company expanded into the Cincinnati area back in 2012 with an eye on more spots to follow in the future, but that’s yet to materialize. So anyone craving their eclectic mix of egg rolls, tacos and burgers will have to make a special trip.
Their West Chester location on the north side of Cincinnati is your quickest drive from Columbus, taking only about an hour and a half to make the 92 mile trek.
For more info, visit www.jackinthebox.com.
El Pollo Loco
This fried chicken establishment traces its roots back to Mexico in the 1970s, but has been a state-side staple since the 1980s. With a U.S. headquarters located in California, it’s also a regional staple in the southwestern and southern states.
Currently, if you want a fix, you’ve got to make an epic 1,000 mile journey south to Lafayette, Louisiana that will take you approximately 15-and-a-half hours without breaks.
For more info, visit www.elpolloloco.com.
What missing fast food restaurant do you most want to see in Central Ohio?
Leave a comment below and who knows… maybe it might inspire some expansion plans!