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10 Fastest-Growing Chain Restaurants In America Right Now

These brands are skyrocketing in popularity.
FACT CHECKED BY Mura Dominko

Throughout the pandemic, restaurant chains have taken massive hits to their businesses. From dramatic drops in sales to store closings and bankruptcy filings, chains that once turned a good profit began vanishing.

For others, take-out, no-contact delivery, and curbside pickup alternatives soon became a lifeline, allowing them to continue bringing quality and delicious food to hungry customers.

The following is a list of ten restaurant chains that saw the most impressive popularity boost and systemwide growth in 2020. These players are currently best-positioned to continue their rise this year and beyond.

For more, check out 5 Fast-Food Chains Falling Out of Favor With Customers.

10

Sonic Drive-In

sonic drive in
Sonic Drive-In/ Facebook

"Service With the Speed of Sound" is the perfect slogan for a chain characterized by a drive-in dining experience with servers on roller skates. Sonic has been around for a while now (68 years to be exact) but has made some major upgrades to its technologies and the design of its locations. The chain thrived on its ability to offer low-contact service throughout the pandemic helping it bring in $5.86 billion in systemwide sales in 2020—a 21.2% year-over-year increase.

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9

Black Rock Coffee Bar

black rock coffee bar
Black Rock Coffee Bar/ Facebook

Who doesn't love a nice cup of Joe? Black Rock Coffee Bar, with 65 locations around the Northwest, is quickly expanding nationwide. Those eager to try their coffee but not close to a location can order their coffee blends online to brew Black Rock Coffee from the comfort of their own home. This in-store and online sales combination has helped the chain grow its sales by 23% and pull in $40.6 million over the past year.

8

Marco's Pizza

marcos pizza
Marco's Pizza/ Facebook

Since its founding by Italian native Pasquale "Pat" Giammarco in 1978, Marco's Pizza has had great success among pizza lovers everywhere. Currently at 1,000 restaurants throughout the country, their authentic Italian quality pizzas have earned them over $760 million in sales and a growth of 24.7% in 2020.

7

Romeo's Pizza

romeos pizza
Romeo's Pizza/ Facebook

Being one of the most delivered food items of all time (and during the pandemic), is it surprising that another pizza chain made the list of fastest-growing brands? Romeo's New York style and specialty pizzas like the Great Ranch and Potato and Italiano Deep Dish helped them grow their sales by 26.5% in 2020—an unprecedented upswing among pizza chains.

6

Sharetea

sharetea
Sharetea USA/ Facebook

Twenty-nine years in the making, Sharetea continues to bring boba, milk tea, and fruit beverages to its 300 locations worldwide since its humble beginnings in 1992 Taiwan. Boba tea has been especially trendy recently, as well as exceptionally marketable, as proven by Sharetea's 27% growth and nearly $65 million in sales in 2020 alone. Their best-selling item is their Tiger Milk Tea: milk tea with brown sugar-soaked tapioca pearls.

5

Pulp Juice & Smoothie Bar

pulp juice smoothie bar
Pulp Juice and Smoothie Bar/ Facebook

As one of the more health-conscious chains on the list, Pulp Juice & Smoothie Bar proves that it wasn't only comfort food customers were after during the pandemic. The sixteen-year-old chain pulled in $21.7 million in sales—a 27% increase from its 2019 numbers. Outside of smoothies and juices, it serves wraps, salads, and smoothie bowls with vegan and dairy-free options, making it accessible for most diets.

4

Sam's Southern Eatery

sams southern eatery
Sam's Southern Eatery/ Facebook

Sam's, founded in 2008, has been slowly growing for years, but in 2020 has seen an incredible upswing in systemwide sales of 31%, which translated to $67.4 million. Customers rave about their large portion sizes at a low cost and their high-quality foods. Some fan favorites are their Catfish Po' Boy sandwich, and the fried shrimp and oysters. The chain has spread to over 50 locations in 9 states since its founding, its latest opening taking place last month.

3

Chicken Salad Chick

chicken salad chick
Chicken Salad Chick/ Facebook

Another win for southern-inspired restaurant chains! Founded in 2008 by Stacy and Kevin Brown, the 200-location chain brought in $175 million in sales during 2020—36% more than the year prior. Their menu ranges from classic chicken salad to fruity, savory, and spicy options. Each portion is diet-friendly and falls under 500 calories to satisfy your appetite while keeping your diet on track.

2

Wahlburgers

wahlburgers
Wahlburgers/ Facebook

Well known from the 2014 A&E reality television show series "Wahlburger," this casual-dining burger chain owned by the Wahlberg brothers increased its sales by 37% over the last 12 months. Serving burger-lovers at 45 domestic locations and several others worldwide, Wahlburgers brought in $76 million in sales in 2020.

1

Crumbl Cookies

crumbl cookies
Crumbl Cookies/ Facebook

Sporting an expansive selection of over 120 unique and trendy flavors, it's no surprise Crumbl Cookies grew by a whopping 93% and brought in over $53 million in sales in 2020 alone. The family-owned baked goods chain established in 2017 specializes in fresh, high-quality treats and operates more than 200 locations throughout the U.S. A weekly rotating menu and fast service and delivery keep Crumbl Cookies one of the most beloved dessert chains in the country.

For more, check out the 108 Most Popular Sodas Ranked By How Toxic They Are.

Samantha Riley
Samantha Riley is a freelance writer. Read more