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15 Fastest-Growing Restaurant Chains Right Now

Some chains have hundreds of new restaurant openings planned for 2024 and beyond.
FACT CHECKED BY Chris Shott

Will chain restaurants ever stop working to grow bigger and better than ever before? If the past is any indication, the answer to that question is probably no.

Year after year, restaurant chains toil to expand their footprint throughout the world. Growing allows these brands to continuously reach new customers, which is extremely important for emerging chains looking to make a name for themselves in the industry. However, even the biggest restaurant chains in the world never really stop growing, so they can maintain their status amid increasing competition from rivals.

2024 is no exception to this trend. Restaurant chains across the country have already announced a slew of new restaurant openings for this year and beyond. Some of the restaurants opening new locations are growing especially fast, so we've rounded up the 15 chains that are expanding the most rapidly right now. Keep an eye out just in case one of these fast-growing eateries pops up near you in the near future!

Papa Johns

Papa Johns
Bruce VanLoon / Shutterstock

Papa Johns currently operates more than 5,900 restaurants across the world. But, over the next couple of years, fans of the pizza chain could see a significant number of new locations pop up globally.

Papa Johns has set a goal to open a whopping 1,150 to 1,400 new locations by the end of 2025, QSR Magazine reported. The chain has already made notable progress on that objective. Papa Johns recently announced that it will open a net total of 210 new units for its full 2023 fiscal year, including 57 net openings in North America and 153 net openings in international markets.

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Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers

Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock

Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers opened a record 62 new restaurants throughout 2023, including its 500th location. The burger chain has no intention of letting its momentum slow now that 2024 has arrived.

Freddy's currently has more than 130 new locations in development, the company announced earlier this month. Of those locations, between 60 and 70 are expected to open this year. Looking beyond 2024, Freddy's has an overarching goal of reaching the 800-restaurant milestone by 2026. That means that hundreds of new locations could pop up over the next couple of years if the company stays on track with its growth goals.

Starbucks

Starbucks store
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Starbucks is already the largest coffee chain in the world, but the company wants to get much, much bigger in the coming years.

This past November, Starbucks revealed grand plans to open 17,000 additional locations by 2030. Starbucks also ultimately wants to expand to a whopping 55,000 locations worldwide, significantly higher than its current total of about 38,000.

The coffee chain is planning for 4% net new store growth in the United States alone for the 2024 fiscal year. Since Starbucks ended its latest quarter with 16,352 locations in the United States, 4% net growth would see Starbucks end the 2024 fiscal year with roughly 650 more U.S. locations. The company's long-term goal for expansion in the United States is to reach 20,000 locations.

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Tropical Smoothie Cafe

Tropical Smoothie Cafe
ADXco / Shutterstock

If you don't currently have a Tropical Smoothie Cafe within driving distance, don't be too surprised if that changes in 2024. The smoothie chain just closed out an impressive year of growth with 176 openings across the country, according to a press release. Tropical Smoothie Cafe also scored 258 franchise agreements in 2023, which it said provides "a robust pipeline of growth for the years ahead."

Considering that 2023 was also the 12th consecutive year in which the chain has recorded positive same-store sales, per the release, Tropical Smoothie Cafe seems to be on the right track for more explosive growth in 2024.

Wendy's

wendy;s exterior
Your Hand Please / Shutterstock

Wendy's not only has hundreds of restaurants slated to open in 2024, but the new locations will boast a new-and-improved design.

Last August, the company unveiled a brand-new type of restaurant called Global Next Gen. These locations are designed to make the experience as streamlined and efficient as possible for Wendy's customers, whether they're ordering in stores, through the app, or via a delivery service. For example, Global Next Gen restaurants will feature digital kiosks where customers can order food, as well as conveniently located shelves where digital customers and delivery drivers can easily grab orders.

Wendy's has only opened a handful of locations with the new design so far. But throughout 2024, it expects to debut more than 200 Global Next Gen locations.

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Slim Chickens

Slim Chickens
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock

Slim Chickens may not boast the broad name recognition and reach of some of the other eateries on this list, but that could all change very soon. The regional chicken chain—which is concentrated in the South, Midwest, and parts of the West—has been exploding in size for years. It only operated 84 units as of the summer of 2019, per QSR Magazine. But nowadays, that total has skyrocketed to more than 245, according to Slim Chickens' franchise site.

CEO Tom Gordon recently told QSR that the company has set its sights on reaching a whopping 1,000 American restaurants and 500 international locations. In 2024 alone, Slim Chickens expects to open more than 70 restaurants.

Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box
JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock

In 2023, Jack in the Box set itself up for a period of speedy growth in the coming years. The regional burger chain, which primarily operates on the West Coast and in Texas, signed commitments for 123 new restaurants throughout the year. Van Ingram, the vice president of franchise development for Jack in the Box and Del Taco, recently told the Franchise Times that those locations will be developed over the next two to seven years.

The expansion will see Jack in the Box enter four new states: Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and Wyoming. The chain also announced a commitment in May 2023 to open 22 locations in Mexico, its first franchise agreement in the country in decades.

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Del Taco

Del Taco
Sheila Fitzgerald / Shutterstock

Del Taco, which was acquired by Jack in the Box in 2022, is growing right alongside its parent company. The regional Mexican-style chain scored 138 new restaurant commitments during the 2023 fiscal year, according to a press release.

Del Taco will enter several brand-new markets as it expands, including Texas, Montana, and Wyoming. In Florida, which already boasts a handful of locations, Del Taco has inked 52 additional restaurant commitments.

McDonald's

McDonald's
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As the biggest burger chain in the world, it should come as no surprise that McDonald's has some aggressive expansion plans in the pipeline. The fast-food giant announced last month that it has a lofty goal of expanding to 50,000 restaurants worldwide by the end of 2027.

McDonald's ended 2023 with more than 40,000 restaurants, so this means that roughly 10,000 additional restaurants could pop up worldwide over the next couple of years if all goes to plan. This will "mark the fastest period of growth" in the company's history, per the announcement.

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Dutch Bros. Coffee

dutch bros drive thru
Alexander Oganezov / Shutterstock

Dutch Bros. Coffee touts itself as one of the fastest-growing brands in the quick-service beverage industry—and for good reason.

The coffee chain opened an impressive 159 new shops throughout 2023, including 37 in the fourth quarter alone. Dutch Bros. plans to one-up itself in 2024 by opening between 150 and 165 new stores. Since the company ended 2023 with 831 locations, this year's opening should bring the total store count up to nearly 1,000.

Jersey Mike's Subs

Jersey Mike's exterior
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock

Out of all the chains featured on this list, Jersey Mike's Subs has one of the most aggressive growth agendas. CEO Peter Cancro told QSR Magazine late last year that the company plans to open 350 locations in 2024. Jersey Mike's intends to follow that up with roughly the same number of openings in 2025 and then 400 to 450 openings in 2026.

Afterward, the company plans to start expanding its unit count by 13% to 15% annually. That's no small feat considering that Jersey Mike's already operates more than 2,600 restaurants throughout the United States, per data company ScrapeHero.

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Chipotle

Chipotle
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Chipotle fans, rejoice! Customers will have even wider access to the chain's, burritos, bowls, and famous guacamole as it plans for rapid expansion this year.

Chipotle projected late last year that it will open between 285 and 315 new restaurants in 2024, assuming that "utility, construction, permit and inspection delays do not worsen." That could turn out to be an even larger total than the 255 to 285 locations that Chipotle anticipated opening in 2023 (the company hasn't yet released its final results for the full year).

Qdoba

Qdoba
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock

Chipotle isn't the only fast-casual Mexican chain looking to grow bigger this year and beyond. Qdoba, a 755-unit Chipotle rival, announced this past August that it plans to double in size over the next decade.

Qdoba said in August that it would kick off the growth spurt with a planned 40 restaurant openings in 2023. It also expects to open 60 restaurants in 2024 and then 80 or more annually, starting in 2025.

"We are in the process of aggressively accelerating new restaurant development in partnership with existing and new franchisees. Once our pipeline is fully established, we expect to sustain a 10% annual growth rate through new restaurant development," John Cywinski, CEO of Qdoba's parent company Modern Restaurant Concepts, said in a statement in August.

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Bonchon

Bonchon Chicken
ICKEDA / Shutterstock

This past year has been a major one for Bonchon, the popular Korean fried chicken chain, which currently operates more than 430 restaurants across nine countries. It achieved its strongest new store sales in its history in 2023, according to a Jan. 18 press release It also signed more than 40 locations for development throughout the year and plans to enter several new markets in 2024 as it expands, including southern FloridaLittle Rock, Ark.Tucson, Ariz.; and Ann Arbor, Mich.

Bonchon currently has 130 restaurants in the United States but wants to grow its footprint to 500 American locations and 1,000 international locations within five years.

"We look forward to breaking into new territories and exploring possibilities in the years to come," Suzie Tsai, who was just named Bonchon's U.S. CEO, said in a statement.

Fogo de Chão

Fogo de Chao
Kristi Blokhin / Shutterstock

Fogo de Chão will make its Brazilian steakhouses even more accessible to consumers as it expands significantly over the next couple of years. The chain announced on Jan. 8 that it plans to open more than 20 new locations globally throughout 2024 and 2025. These openings will put Fogo de Chão on track to open its 100th restaurant by the end of this year.

Among the cities slated to get a new Fogo de Chão over the next couple years are Santa Monica, Calif.; Nashville, Tenn.; San Antonio, Texas; and Oklahoma City, Okla. Make sure to check out the company's announcement if you want more details on where the chain is headed.

Zoe Strozewski
Zoe Strozewski is a News Writer for Eat This, Not That! A Chicago native who now lives in New Jersey, she graduated from Kean University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Read more about Zoe