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Behind the story
hot-concept-crack-shack.gif Courtesy of The Crack Shack

Get to know the next big restaurant brands

Innovative menus and outside-the-box thinking set this year’s Hot Concepts apart

NRN editors take you beyond the headlines and offer perspectives on the issues and events shaping the industry. Get more inside takes from Behind the Story >>

nrn-editor-in-chief-jenna-telesca.gifIf you like to know about the next big restaurant chains, you’ve come to the right place.

The Nation’s Restaurant News team presents the 2019 class of Hot Concepts, five standout chains we feel they are poised for growth in a big way. At age 7 and younger, these brands are relatively new, but have shown real strength in their markets.

Many of these concepts stand out for their unique approach. Once, during a 45-minute Uber ride in D.C. traffic, I listened to the driver wax poetic on the beauty of his last visit to &pizza. The man was passionate. The balsamic drizzle is key, he reported. By the end of the ride I was starving and ready to check out this fast-casual brand (which I made time for). &pizza doesn’t just have enthusiastic customers, but also a CEO who takes a different approach to managing his workforce.

The others have equally compelling stories. San Diego-based Crack Shack highlights the consumer trend of comfort food with a premium edge. In this case, it’s fried chicken made from a fancy Jidori chicken breed and  a fine-dining preparation. Seasonality and sustainability are key at Portland, Ore.-based Garden Bar, a salad concept that takes recycling to the next level. Besides serving up mouth-watering biscuits, Florida-based Maple Street Biscuit Company redefines its restaurants with a more community-focused approach to the hiring of its general managers. And the folks at New York’s Mulberry & Vine have made the lunch daypart work for them, with the midday meal representing 65% of the business.

Nation's Restaurant News September 9 2019 Hot Concepts MUFSO preview

For those attending this year’s MUFSO show, there will also be a chance to meet the executives from these brands and sample their menu items during a special reception.

NRN’s MUFSO conference is in Denver this year, Oct. 14-16, and it’s not too late to register at For a sneak peek of what to expect at the show, check out these 8 things you don’t want to miss, including additions like the Taste of Denver reception, the culinary workshop and a CBD info session.

Team NRN will see you there.

Contact Jenna Telesca at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @JennaTelesca

TAGS: Fast Casual
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