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10 Popular Restaurant Chains That Are Rapidly Expanding

After a year marked by unprecedented closures, it's time for some good news!
FACT CHECKED BY Faye Brennan

After a year in which countless restaurants were forced to permanently close their doors, it's encouraging to know that other popular chains managed to grow. In fact, one-third of the top 500 chains in 2020 actually added locations, according to Restaurant Business.

The most recent Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report, which has been published annually since 1974 by Technomic, revealed the 10 chains that grew the most last year. The pandemic wasn't enough to slow down Teriyaki Madness—or any of the nine other restaurants that made this exclusive list. (Related: 100 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet)

1

Teriyaki Madness

Shutterstock

Fans of Teriyaki Madness love its protein-packed bowls, rice and noodle sides, and classic Asian apps. The chain grew a massive 52% in 2020, and its portfolio bolstered 96 locations. (For reference, the top 10 restaurant chains posted "the strongest unit growth" year over year in the U.S.)

Related: Are you a fan of Asian food? If so, you don't want to miss this major menu announcement from Panda Express.

2

Clean Juice

clean juice with hummus toast
Courtesy of Clean Juice

Clean Juice grew a whopping 51% last year, and its total footprint expanded to 125 locations. The list appears to suggest that when it comes to chain restaurants, Americans crave more healthy eating choices.

RELATED: One Major Effect of Drinking Cranberry Juice, New Study Says

3

Wahlburger's

wahlburgers
Wahlburgers The Battery Atlanta/Facebook

The only thing more timeless than our love for the Wahlberg brothers is our love for a good burger. Wahlburger's grew by 45% in 2020, and its total number of locations increased to 45.

RELATED: The #1 Healthiest Fast-Food Burger Order, According to Nutritionists

4

Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar

Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar

This Louisiana-inspired sports bar chain is co-owned by NFL star Drew Brees. It grew by 36% last year, upping its total number of locations to 45.

RELATED: This Fan-Favorite Sports Bar Chain Is Opening New Locations

5

Kung Fu Tea

kung fu tea
Courtesy of Kung Fu Tea

Kung Fu Tea, a burgeoning boba and beverage chain, grew by 34% in 2020. It had 292 locations in the U.S. alone.

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About Bubble Tea

6

California Fish Grill

Courtesy of The LA Crawfish

Another healthy pick! California Fish Grill features a menu with nutritional data that we can get behind. Plus, it offers sustainably sourced seafood at affordable prices. The chain grew by 31% last year, increasing its footprint to 38 locations. A restaurant in Las Vegas is also coming soon.

7

Chicken Salad Chick

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Chicken Salad Chick speaks to Technomic's observation that "anything that served chicken . . . did well." The chain grew 22% in 2020, expanding its reach to 176 locations.

A review of Chicken Salad Chick's menu suggests that not a single one of its dishes is fried (big ups, Chicken Salad Chick!), while a four-ounce scoop of chicken salad clocks in at 340 calories and clocks out before reaching 500.

8

The LA Crawfish

Courtesy of The LA Crawfish

Cajun's always a classic! The LA Crawfish grew by 20% in 2020, upping its total number of locations to 30.

RELATED: The 15 Foods You Have To Try In New Orleans

9

Scooter's Coffee

Shutterstock

Founded in 1998, this Nebraska coffee chain grew by 18% last year to number 315 locations. Why exactly is it called "Scooter's?" The brand says it wanted to "make customers happy by helping them 'scoot in' and 'scoot out' quickly."

RELATED: One Major Side Effect of Drinking Your Coffee Before Breakfast, Expert Says

10

Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurants

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Cooper's Hawk, which opened its first location in a Chicago suburb in 2005, grew its portfolio by 17% in 2020 to number 48 locations. Inspired by Napa Valley, the chain offers a wine-driven dining experience.

Before you order a glass of wine, don't forget to check out One Major Side Effect of Drinking Alcohol on an Empty Stomach, Dietitian Says. Also, don't forget to sign up for the Eat This, Not That! newsletter to get the top food news delivered to your inbox every day!

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Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more