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The 50 fastest-growing restaurant chains

The 50 fastest-growing restaurant chains

For nearly three of the past five years, the restaurant industry and the U.S. economy in general have faced crippling economic pressures. Consumer spending stalled, operating costs rose and lending was locked down, making expansion more than difficult for foodservice players large and small. Despite all of this, restaurant growth chains can be found.

Looking at the five-year growth rate of unit development among chains with more than 20 locations, market research firm Chain Store Guide has identified the 50 fastest-growing chain restaurant operators in the United States and Canada. Chain Store Guide, a sister publication to Nation’s Restaurant News under parent company Lebhar-Friedman Inc., provides information databases covering retailers, restaurants, distributors and wholesalers in the United States and Canada with contact information on more than 195,000 executives and buyers.

Focusing on unit growth, with no cap on chain size based on sales, this report highlights some of the smallest hot concepts in the industry as well as brands well known for their growth. Each of the top 50 brands on the upswing has posted percentage unit growth rates in the triple digits during the past five years. Total corporate annual revenue for the brands ranges from $1.8 million for a small frozen yogurt chain to $1.3 billion for a family-dining giant. All segments of the industry are accounted for.

"Among the top 50 are a number of quick-service franchisees who have found continuing demand for the fried chicken or hamburgers that Americans have come to depend on," said Linda Helman, a Chain Store Guide senior editor and author of the report. "There are also several major corporations on the list who have made significant acquisitions over the course of the past five years ... and there are top chains categorized as fast casual, reflecting the modern consumer's willingness to pay a little more for food that tastes good and is prepared to order."

Nation's Restaurant News is presenting this data in an exclusive online series profiling the top 10 growth chains in separate installments over the next month, as well as a recap showcasing the data on all 50 chains. Online and in NRN a.m., Nation's Restaurant News' daily e-newsletter, each installment of the special report will reveal two of the top 10 chains for the next three weeks. Come back to's Special Reports page to read each new entry, and to find the fastest-growing chain of the past five years.

Begin the countdown with Nos. 10 and 9.

As a special offer to readers of Nation's Restaurant News, a $210 discount off of any Chain Store Guide chain restaurant database or directory is offered through June 1, 2010. Access Chain Store Guide's in-depth profiles of the top 7,100 restaurant chains with more than 31,000 contact names and 12,000 personal e-mail addresses for the top executives, chefs and decision makers in the restaurant industry. To take advantage of this special offer, visit Chain Store Guide and use the promotion code 210NRN at checkout.

Contact Sarah E. Lockyer at [email protected].

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