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  • fast food nation    May 9 
Wendy's is winning the fast-food wars by copying Chipotle
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Yesterday, the big players in the fast-food industry released their first-quarter earnings for 2014. Wendy's increased same-store sales by 0.7 percent in North America, while McDonald's showed a 1.7 percent decline.

Wendy's reps say the growth is thanks to limited-time foods and a more "fast casual" experience. Offerings like the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger come across as more deluxe than the standard Big Macs and Whoppers, and the limited-time offer drives consumers in at higher rates. "A brand transformation is well underway at Wendy's," spokesman Bob Bertini told Businessweek.

Unsurprisingly, many have likened Wendys' new approach to that of Chipotle, which offers a fast-casual environment and, like Wendy's, promises higher-quality ingredients than its competitors. It's certainly working for the burrito chain: Chipotle's same-store sales in 2014's first quarter were at a record high from the last eight years, with a remarkable 13.4 percent growth in comparable sales.

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