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8 Restaurant Chains That Are Skyrocketing in Popularity in 2024

These chains are attracting tons of customers and receiving plenty of acclaim from their fans.

This year is shaping up to be a rough one for some major players in the restaurant industry. A growing number of chains find themselves facing declining customer visits, dropping sales, store closures, and even bankruptcy in some instances. However, this negative trend hasn't affected all of the chain eateries that customers know and love—far from it, in fact!

A number of chains have been skyrocketing in popularity in 2024, adding even more competition to the crowded restaurant industry. For some of these chains, you can see the rise in popularity through their gains in sales and customer traffic. Meanwhile, surveys and studies that have been released in 2024 show that other chains are growing increasingly popular and beloved in their fanbases.

Read on for all of the restaurant chains that are skyrocketing in popularity in 2024—and not likely to lose their momentum anytime soon.


Chick-fil-A exterior
Summer_Wind / Shutterstock

In the competitive world of fast food, Chick-fil-A is one of the players to watch in 2024. It reigns as the country's largest chicken chain by sales and the third-largest restaurant chain in the United States overall. Last year was a particularly strong one for Chick-fil-A as it grew its sales by nearly 15% and grew its store count to nearly 6%, according to Technomic Top 500 data.

Aside from its financial strength, Chick-fil-A also continues to see intense adoration from its fanbase. Consumers have rated it as their favorite restaurant brand for nine consecutive years in the annual American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Restaurant Study. In a recent study on companies with the best customer service, conducted by the experience management software company Qualtrics, Chick-fil-A also stole the top ranking.

Qualtrics suggested that Chick-fil-A is so highly rated because about 80% of Chick-fil-A franchisees only run one location, allowing them to focus on ensuring smooth operations at their sole Chick-fil-A. Qualtrics also noted that Chick-fil-A upholds extremely high standards for customer service, such as training workers to say "my pleasure" when guests thank them.

"Small quirks like this have helped set the fast food chain apart from its competitors and leave a positive lasting impression on customers," Qualtrics said.

 I Tried Every Chick-fil-A Dipping Sauce & the Best Was Sweet and a Bit Fruity


Wingstop exterior
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock

In 2024, few restaurant chains are flourishing quite as fiercely as Wingstop. The chain—known for its multitudes of wing flavors and chicken sandwiches—reported an impressive 21.6% increase in domestic same-store sales in the first quarter of 2024.

These monumental sales gains are especially impressive considering they came during a quarter where even some of the most massive fast-food chains' sales were in the single digits. McDonald's, for example, reported a lower-than-anticipated 1.9% increase in global same-store sales and a 2.5% same-store sales increase in the United States.

Wingstop said its same-store sales increases were driven by a boost in customer transactions and consumers' willingness to treat themselves to a meal at the chain despite inflationary pressures.

"We believe that indulgent Wingstop occasion delivers upon both quality and value and has us uniquely positioned," CEO and President Michael Skipworth said during a May earnings call.

Wingstop opened 255 net new locations in 2023 and plans to do even better by opening 270 net new restaurants globally in 2024.

 Every Wingstop Flavor, Ranked From Worst to Best

Jersey Mike's

Jersey Mike's sign
Eric Glenn / Shutterstock

Competition is tough among America's biggest sandwich chains, but Jersey Mike's is making impressive strides in the industry nonetheless.

Subway and Panera Bread are currently America's first and second-largest sandwich chains in terms of market share, or the percentage of total sales that come from a specific company in an industry. But according to Consumer Edge, a provider of global consumer data insights and solutions, Jersey Mike's has gained 7% in market share since 2019 while Subway and Panera have both lost 4%.

These findings show that some consumers may be shifting away from Subway and Panera as Jersey Mike's grows even more popular.

"It's not as if their growth is falling off a cliff, but it just might be a matter of the [sandwich] concept being saturated and then companies like Jersey Mike's taking share away," Michael Gunther, vice president and head of insights at Consumer Edge, previously Eat This, Not That! in an interview.

According to Gunther, Jersey Mike's market share gains may be partly due to "the fact that they're expanding." The chain currently boasts more than 3,000 locations and expects to open 350 more in 2024, introducing its subs to scores of potential new customers.

 I Tried the 5 Most Popular Subs at Jersey Mike's & the Best Was a Spicy Behemoth


Cava exterior
Courtesy of Cava

It would be a grand understatement to say that Cava—a fast-casual chain that some have declared a "better version" of Chipotle—has been flourishing in 2024. In a May report, the foot traffic platform revealed that Cava experienced a whopping 23.6% increase in customer visits in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period in 2023. The foot traffic platform noted that much of Cava's recent success is probably due to its rapid growth.

Cava ended the latest quarter with 323 restaurants and plans to open between 50 and 54 new locations in total this year. It has a longer-term goal of reaching 1,000 units by 2032, so don't be too surprised if you see a Cava pop up in your area in the future.

"Cava continues to get stronger with every new restaurant we open and every new guest we welcome to our table," CFO Tricia Tolivar said during a February earnings call.

Ruth's Chris Steak House

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock

Americans, apparently, are very fond of indulging in premium steaks served on sizzling plates in an upscale setting. A chain that offers this very exact dining experience—Ruth's Chris Steak House—has been experiencing a recent surge in popularity.

Customer visits to Ruth's Chris rose by 5% in the first quarter of 2024, according to a report. Though year-over-year traffic slowed slightly in April this year, it began rising again in May, per

Further evidence of Ruth's Chris rising popularity came when Nation's Restaurant News released its first report on America's Favorite Restaurant Chains in collaboration with market research firm Technomic in January. The report assigned percentage scores to restaurant chains based on consumer responses on several things, such as service and hospitality, unit appearance and ambiance, food and beverages, convenience and takeout, and value. Ruth's Chris received the highest overall score (64.8%) of any chain considered in the report, giving it the coveted title of America's favorite restaurant chain.

Ruth's Chris' future is also looking especially secure after the dining empire Darden Restaurants—parent company of Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, and a handful of other chains—acquired it in 2023.

 Capital Grille vs. Ruth's Chris Steak House: 5 Major Differences

Olive Garden

Olive Garden exterior
Sharkshock / Shutterstock

Whether it's because of the free breadsticks, the create-your-own pasta, or the casual family-friendly atmosphere, customers have been flocking to Olive Garden in droves lately.

A March report from revealed that customer visits to Olive Garden rose throughout most of 2023. The Italian-American chain saw an 8.8% jump in traffic in the first quarter, a 2.2% jump in the third quarter, and a 5.4% jump in the fourth quarter. While Olive Garden's traffic did dip in the second quarter, it was only by 0.7%.

These positive trends have continued into 2024 for Olive Garden. In a June report, announced that the chain saw a 1% boost in traffic during the first quarter of the year. March was a particularly successful month for Olive Garden as it saw a 4.5% year-over-year increase in visits, according to data.

 The Best Olive Garden Order for Weight Loss

Texas Roadhouse

Texas Roadhouse
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The cost of eating at Texas Roadhouse has been steadily ticking up lately, with the steakhouse chain rolling out its third price hike in less than a year this past spring. However, the rising price tag hasn't put a damper on fans' love for Texas Roadhouse.

The chain reported an 8.4% increase in same-store sales at company-owned restaurants and a 4.3% increase in customer traffic in its latest quarterly earnings report. Same-store sales were also up 7.7% for Texas Roadhouse's franchised restaurants.

These data points show that customers have been flocking to the steakhouse chain in droves 2024, continuing the intense popularity it experienced in 2023. During a May investors call, CEO Jerry Morgan said that the chain's "strong results continue to reflect our operators' commitment to the consistency and quality of the food, the hospitality they provide, and our everyday value."

 I Tried Every Steak at Texas Roadhouse & One Blew Me Away

Crumbl Cookies

Crumbl Cookies exterior
Robert V Schwemmer / Shutterstock

Crumbl Cookies has been experiencing a meteoric rise in the restaurant industry, with intense demand for its massive desserts driving hundreds of new store openings over the past few years. Although the chain did shutter a handful of its shops for the first time in 2023, those closures don't seem to have dampened its popularity whatsoever.

Crumbl entered the top 100 of the Technomic Top 500 report for the first in 2023, showing that it continues to move up in the world of chain restaurants. It grew its footprint by a whopping 40.8% in 2023, while sales increased by a similarly impressive 10.5%,  according to Nation's Restaurant News.

Crumbl isn't growing at quite as rapid of a pace as it has in prior years. It expects to open 122 new locations in 2024, compared to 184 and 363 in 2023 and 2022, respectively. Still, that's one of the most ambitious expansion pipelines of all the chains that are growing fast this year.

 I Tried the Cookie Skillet at 5 Restaurant Chains & Only One Is a Perfect Hit

Tropical Smoothie Cafe

Tropical Smoothie Cafe
ADXco / Shutterstock

If Tropical Smoothie Cafe's booming success is any indication, Americans have a huge appetite for fruit smoothies and bowls right now. The chain had an undeniably strong year in 2023 as it opened a whopping 176 new locations, growing its footprint by 14%. It was also the twelfth consecutive year in which Tropical Smoothie Cafe saw positive same-store sales.

"Tropical Smoothie Cafe drove fantastic growth in 2023, and I place so much of that achievement on our franchisees," CEO Charles Watson said in a statement. "Our incredible cafe operators are precisely what allow us to continue opening new locations in more communities than ever before, because they know that the key to this business is delivering an outstanding experience for each guest who walks through our doors."

After scoring 258 franchise agreements in 2023, Tropical Smoothie Cafe will continue to open new stores and reach more potential new customers.

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