The 10 Fastest-Growing Restaurant Chains in America You’ll Want to Try Before They Blow Up
Dining out is typically a fun experience. You get to choose the type of cuisine you want and—the best part—you don’t have to cook it yourself. We all have our go-to restaurants, whether it be a limited service, fast and casual place like Panera Bread or a full service, sit-down kind of spot like The Cheesecake Factory; it’s not hard to demonstrate loyalty for a food establishment by going there regularly. However, it may just be time to branch out and try something new because there are several restaurant chains that are rapidly gaining attention, and you’ll want to make at stop at one (or all) of these fastest-growing restaurant chains in America before they make it to the big time.
Every year, Nation’s Restaurant News whips up an annual Top 200 report, where they conduct a “proprietary ranking of the foodservice industry’s largest restaurant chains and parent companies” to see which restaurants are growing the fastest. In 2018, they sectioned out the fastest-growing restaurants (all of them saw a sales growth of more than 20 percent), so places you may have never even heard of ended up on the list based on their dramatic increases in sales over the past year. This means now in 2019 they might be well on their way to opening in your area. It’s time to get to know them so you can scope out which ones you’ll be dining at very soon.
Here are the fastest growing restaurant chains sweeping the U.S. You’ll want to make a reservation before they get too popular!
Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers
Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers serves up, you guessed it, a variety of steakburgers and custard-based sundaes and cones. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, the restaurant had formerly ranked as No. 119 on the 2017’s Top 200 ranking with $340.50 million in systemwide sales across the U.S. at the end of 2016 fiscal year. That number has since grown by a whopping 20.7 percent to get to $411 million in systemwide U.S. sales at the end of the 2017 fiscal year. You’ll want to take a bite—and a scoop!—out of this place.
Black Bear Diner
At Black Bear Diner, breakfast is served all day! If you live on the east coast and even parts of the south and midwest, you probably haven’t tried this chain yet. That’s because locations are spread out across the west coast, with a heavy concentration in California, followed by Oregon and Washington. Despite not even being offered in half of the country, the diner witnessed an increase of 22.3 percent in systemwide U.S. sales in the past year, making it the ninth fastest-growing restaurant chain. You can’t beat a good diner, right?
Tropical Smoothie Cafe
Don’t let the name of this restaurant deceive you: there are more options than just delicious, fruit-filled smoothies. With a menu stacked in a diverse lineup of meals, including a Cuban sandwich and a Santa Fe chicken quesadilla, Tropical Smoothie Cafe experienced a 25.1 percent increase in sales across the U.S., having amassed $393 million in sales in the most recent fiscal year.
RELATED: This 7-day smoothie diet will help you shed those last few pounds.
Fuzzy’s Taco Shop
Aside from having a darling name, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop is the seventh fastest-growing restaurant chain in the country, having witnessed a 25.4 percent growth in sales in the past year alone. Check out this restaurant chain if you’re a lover of burritos, chips and queso, and, of course, tacos. It’s always Taco Tuesday to us.
Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers
Step aside KFC, there’s another quick service fried chicken place taking the U.S. by storm. Not only did the Louisiana-based restaurant chain increase its store count by 16.6 percent to amount to 352 locations countrywide in the past year, but Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers also experienced a 30.2 percent increase in sales.
Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant
The latest Top 200 restaurant census indicated that casual-dining chains took a hit in the sales, with 25 of the 62 casual-dining chains analyzed actually witnessing a decline. The average sales growth within this category of restaurants was also bleak at just 0.4 percent, much less than the average Top 200 chain sales growth of 3.2 percent. Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant truly comes out as the underdog, with a sales growth of 30.42 percent in the past year. We’ll cheers to that!
Just beating Cooper’s Hawk by 0.02 percentage points in sales growth is family dining restaurant First Watch. This restaurant has been a go-to spot for brunch in respective cities since it opened in 1983. The restaurant is projected to expand further after a recent investment from private-equity firm Advent International, so be on (first) watch to see if it’s coming to your area soon!
Shake Shack began as a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park in 2001 and has since become a fast-growing, quick service burger and milkshake restaurant chain. Sales grew by 32.5 percent in the past year, making it the third fastest-growing restaurant chain. McDonald’s might have some competition…
Earning the spot as the second fastest-growing restaurant chain in the U.S. is Blaze Pizza, having experienced a dramatic sales increase of 50.8 percent. Blaze isn’t the only pizza place to snag a spot in the top 10 fastest-growing chains though…
Finally, the fastest-growing restaurant chain in the U.S. is MOD pizza, with a domestic annual sales increase of 80 percent! This huge increase in sales was predominately fueled by a near 60 percent increase in restaurant units, but nonetheless, it’s still an impressive leap. You’ll want to try a slice of this one.