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America's Fastest-Growing Restaurant Chain Is a Little-Known Coffee Shop

The drive-thru coffee chain has been on a rapid expansion since opening its doors.

Between national giants like Starbucks and Dunkin' and regional hotspots like PJ's, coffee chains of all varieties have been ramping up their presence to help consumers get their java fix. And of the numerous options out there, one coffee spot is growing faster than the rest.

This week, QSR Magazine reported that 7 Brew, an Arkansas-based drive-thru coffee chain, had the strongest one-year unit growth of any restaurant brand by percentage, according to a report from Dataessential, a food industry research company that partnered with the publication. The report, which will fully arrive in June, includes 500 restaurant brands across multiple sectors ranging from coffee to hot chicken.

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In 2023, 7 Brew grew its store count by 373.7%, finishing the year with 180 locations. Following 7 Brew was The Peach Cobbler Factory, Hangry Joe's Hot Chicken, and KPOT Korean BBQ & Hot Pot, which grew by 358.3%, 281.8%, and 275%, respectively.

7 brew coffee and drive-thru
Courtesy of 7 Brew

The coffee chain, which refers to its shops as "stands," opened its first location in Rogers, Ark., back in 2017. It later opened its 100th location in 2023. Since then, 7 Brew has grown to operate 223 stands across 26 states. Besides coffee, the chain is home to a selection of other beverages, including teas, lemonades, smoothies, energy drinks, and infused sparkling water drinks.

Earlier this year, QSR Magazine named 7 Brew the 2023 Breakout Brand of the Year, highlighting its growth of 275% in less than a year. According to the company's financial disclosure document (FDD), 7 Brew had 2,000 store commitments as of December 2022, though John Davidson, the chain's CEO, said that number has increased to over 2,500 and is expected to reach 3,000.

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In terms of sales growth, 7 Brew took the third spot in the Dataessential report, experiencing a 267.3% increase. Meanwhile, The Peach Cobbler Factory topped the list with a 332.5% increase in sales.

7 Brew wasn't the only coffee chain highlighted in this report. Florida-based Foxtail Coffee Co. and Tennessee-based Just Love Coffee Café also experienced notable growth, increasing their unit count by 176.2% and 136.8%, respectively.

Looking at the restaurant industry as a whole, the report found that the South experienced the most new restaurant chain openings in 2023, making up 43% of the top 500 included.

Brianna Ruback
Brianna is a staff writer at Eat This, Not That! She attended Ithaca College, where she graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Communication Studies. Read more about Brianna