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From the editor: Welcome to the 2017 Second 100

This is part of the Nation’s Restaurant News annual Second 100 report, a proprietary ranking of restaurant brands Nos. 101-200 by U.S. systemwide sales and other data. This report is a companion to the Top 100 report.

The Second 100 ranking may be a companion to the Top 100, but these chains and foodservice operators still stand on their own.

The Second 100 report outlines the U.S. systemwide sales, unit-level sales and unit counts for chains that collectively represent $26.3 billion in sales and 19,928 units in the Latest Year. This is in contrast to the Top 100’s heavyweights that brought in $257 billion in systemwide sales in the Latest Year.

Ranked No. 101 to 200, the smaller chains of the Second 100 tell the story of the restaurant industry’s future. The story is about varied segments, nimble operations and concepts able to grow — and quickly.

Take fast-casual Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, with 81.9-percent growth in systemwide sales in the Latest Year, or better-burger chain Shake Shack, with both sales growth and unit growth in the low-to-mid 40-percent range.

Shake Shack is adding units across the country while also tending to its home base. Four New York City units opened in 2016 are now expected to bring in average unit volumes of $7 million, according to CEO Randy Garutti.

Rethinking the menu also set some successful chains apart. U.K.-based Pret A Manger, a newcomer to the list, debuts at No. 173, growing sales with a focus on vegetable-first options that appeal to carnivores.

“We see great opportunity to expand in our existing markets in the U.S., as well as enter new markets through transportation hubs,” Pret A Manger CEO Clive Schlee said earlier this year. “We are also exploring opportunities at a couple U.S. university campuses.”

These up-and-comers on the list are fierce competitors in more markets every day. Consumers go to these concepts for fresh, fast food, often with feel-good corporate policies such as donating daily leftovers to food banks (Pret A Manger) and generous employee benefits (Shake Shack).

Read on to learn from the concepts doing something right — as well as from the companies that are struggling. There’s no one way to win over customers. This report outlines 100 different approaches and the financial results.

Jenna Telesca, Editor-in-Chief

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @jennatelesca

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