The sandwich chain surpassed the world's largest hamburger chain in terms of number of stores in the United States in 2002 and now it has taken the global lead, with 33,749 restaurants worldwide at the end of last year. McDonald's had 32,737.
Subway, established in 1965, has restaurants in 95 countries. Now there is even a Subway at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan.
They first ventured outside North America when a store opened in the small Middle Eastern island nation of Bahrain in December 1984.
Subway expects its number of international restaurants to exceed its domestic ones by 2020, says Don Fertman, Subway's Chief Development Officer.
Subway is entirely franchisee-owned. That has been part of its success, Pace said. Its smaller-format stores cost less to open and operate than other chain restaurants. The company's emphasis on cost-control, marketing and advertising has also helped grow the brand.
McDonald's, however, remains the industry's revenue champion, with US$24 billion (S$30.4 billion) in revenue for its last fiscal year.
Subway generated roughly $15.2 billion, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. Subway, which is based Milford, Conn., is owned by privately held Doctor's Associates Inc. and does not publicly disclose its financial figures.